Little League: Gilroy stays alive at Western Regionals

Gabriella Howard winds up in the circle for the Gilroy Junior All Stars during her team's game against Paradise in the Northern California championship. 

TUCSON, ARIZ.—The Gilroy Junior All Stars softball team dropped their Western Regionals opener Thursday, but have rebounded with a vengeance.
After losing to Arizona 10-2 in the opener, the Garlic City girls—who are representing Northern California—went on to hammer Montana and Hawaii. They topped Montana 8-3 on Friday before blanking Hawaii 11-0 in five innings Saturday.
NorCal pitcher Gabriella Howard has been on point, allowing just one hit through the team’s two wins. She racked up seven strikeouts through three innings against Hawaii before Sierra Serrano came into finish the job. Serrano pitched a perfect final two innings and recorded to Ks.
Gilroy jumped out to a 1-0 lead over Hawaii in the top of the second thanks to a sacrifice fly from Alyssa Olivares, which scored Jaime Lam.
The All Stars added five more in the top of the third. A walk, an error and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases and another error allowed Korynn Yslava to get on base and Savanah Castro to score. An error by the first baseman sent Isabella Delgado across home plate and put All Star runners on second and third. Olivares singled to score Lam and Yslava, but the team wasn’t done yet. Howard hit a hard ground ball to left field to bring Olivares home and put Gilroy up 6-0.
Olivares led her team with three RBIs off one hit and scored a run.
The All Stars found themselves in another bases loaded situation in the top of the fourth and capitalized off it to add a run. With two outs recorded, Serrano was walked and Maggie Brinkman strolled home to improve her team’s to lead to 7-0.
Delgado sparked things off in the top of the fifth with a single to left field that allowed Vanessa Zozaya to score. Castro scored on the next play off a wild pitch, putting NorCal ahead 9-0. A single from Brinkman scored Delgado and Alyssa Harden to cap off scoring against Hawaii.
Brinkman had two RBIs, a hit and a run in the game. Zozaya and Howard each had two hits a piece.
Montana was a tougher opponent in Friday’s game. The girls from Big Sky Country led 3-0 through one and a half innings before Gilroy got on the board to take the lead in the bottom of the second.
An error by Montana’s third baseman allowed Kaia Adams enough time to score, sparking a rally for Gilroy. Back-to-back line drives from Christal Clark and Zozaya scored Yslava and Howard, respectively. Clark also scored off Zozaya’s hit to put Gilroy ahead 4-3.
Clark led the team, going 3 for 4 with an RBI, run scored and a double.
A hard ground ball single from Howard scored Lam and Yslava in the bottom of the third to improve Gilroy’s lead to 6-3.
Brinkman singled in the bottom of the fourth to score Zozaya and a fielder’s choice allowed Castro to cross home plate for the team’s final run.
Zozaya and Howard each had two RBIs and a run a piece against Montana. Howard was also stellar in the circle, pitching five near-perfect innings in which she walked two and struck out one.
The All Stars look to keep their World Series dreams alive when they square off with Alaska at 7:30 p.m. today in Arizona.