PORTLAND, ORE. — With the national television cameras rolling, Sunnyside Little League left no doubt tonight as to which team deserved to be crowned the champion at the Little League Softball World Series.
Sunnyside scratched and clawed its way to an early lead, then broke out the big bats in the fourth inning of a 9-0 win over McLean, Va., in the championship game at Portland’s Alpenrose Stadium.
With a boisterous rooting section down the third base line and countless other fans following from home on ESPN2, Sunnyside became the first team from Arizona to take home the title. No team from the West region had won since 1990.
After four one-run games to start the tournament — including a loss in its opening game — Sunnyside let it fly in the semifinal and final, outscoring Puerto Rico and Virginia 19-0.
“It took a while in the tournament to really get our bats going, but we really did the last two games,” manager Manny Tapia said. “Tonight I told the girls to just go out and play like it was any other game, and do what they do best.”
Pitcher Jazmine Ayala, whose father and coach, Rene, won the Junior League baseball World Series as a player in 1992, gave up just two hits in a complete game effort.
“We showed a lot of heart out here,” said Ayala. “I knew we could do if we just stayed together as a team and got some momentum.”
Ayala struck out five, leaving it to her teammates to make a number of difficult plays in the field. Sunnyside made no errors in its last two games.
“They got down and dirty behind me, and I appreciate what they did,” Ayala said.