SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Just like in Thursday's victory over Oregon, the Sunnyside Little League softball team scored one run in the first inning of the Western Regional Little League championship on Friday.
This time, the Tucson team saw no reason to stop at one.
Sunnyside added 11 runs over the next three innings and earned a 12-2 victory over Granada Hills, Calif., in a game that ended early because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The girls' reward: A trip to the 12-and-under Little League Softball World Series, which begins Aug. 8 in Portland, Ore. Their first opponent will be the Canadian representative.
Sunnyside just missed going to the World Series in 2012, losing 5-4 to Hawaii in the regional final. Sunnyside was loud and enthusiastic before Friday's game, but catcher Arlett Arreola said she felt more pressure this year than last season.
You would never know it by her play, as she belted a home run, and single and worked a walk in her three trips to the plate. She finished with four RBIs.
"There was more tension this year because we wanted it so much last year," Arreola said. "We learned from our mistakes, and I just feel confident with my teammates."
Friday's pitching star was Yanira Acuña. She pitched the second game of the tournament when Sunnyside defeated Gilroy, Calif., the Northern California representative.
In the other two games, one of them coming against Granada Hills earlier in the week, coach Manuel Tapia used three pitchers for two games.
"I picked Yanira tonight because Southern California didn't see her in the first game," Tapia said.
"She is a good competitor and she came back from last year for some unfinished business."
Acuña reached second base on an error in the first, and managed to score without a hit to give Sunnyside a 1-0 lead.
Granada Hills posted two runs in the top of the second on an infield out and a sacrifice fly, but the advantage didn't last long.
Destyni Payan started the bottom of the second with a home run to right field. Arreola then added a two-run home run. Sunnyside added four runs in the third inning, and it secured the run-rule victory when Alex Tapia ripped an RBI single in the fourth inning.
"We weren't bothered when they took a lead," Acuña said. "Destyni's home run turned things around."
Granada Hills defeated Sunnyside 5-0 in the first game of pool play. There may have been some observers surprised by the drastic reversal, but Granada Hills coach Jennifer Murphy wasn't one of them.
"They weren't as disciplined with their at-bats in the first game, but I could tell they were disciplined by the way they carry themselves and the way they played defense," she said.
"They will be a great team to send to the World Series."