It may have taken Sunnyside an extra game, but the defending Little League softball champions are headed back to the World Series.
Sunnyside’s girls won the nightcap against Fontana, California, 13-3, in a six-inning, mercy-rule game Friday night at Arthur Pack Park Field No. 2, and will play for a junior league title. The tournament went to a winner-take-all game after Fontana won Game 1, 5-2.
Representing the West, Sunnyside now heads to Kirkland, Washington, as one of six teams from the U.S. joining four other teams from around the world. The tournament will be broadcast on ESPN.
Coach Manny Tapia said his team may have been overconfident heading in to the final day of the tournament. After all, Sunnyside — which calls Mission Manor Park on the south side home — had to win just one of two games to advance.
“We came in a little big-headed. The girls thought they had it in the bag, but they got a reality check,” he said. “They’ve been together for awhile. If somebody falls they pick them up.”
Along with the eight players from Sunnyside returning to the World Series, five new players – Amaya Turner, Andrea Escarcega, Arely Leon, Danisia Carpio and Narilyn Morales – are making their first trip to the big stage.
While Game 1 was filled with missed chances and mental mistakes, including bad base running gaffes and seven runners left in scoring position, Game 2 showcased what Sunnyside does well – everything.
It didn’t take long for Sunnyside to get momentum back on its side, scoring multiple runs in each of the first three innings, including four in the third, highlighted by a bases loaded, two-run ground-rule double from Arlett Arreola to take an 8-0 lead.
SoCal rallied for three runs in the fourth but Sunnyside answered with a pair in the bottom half, and two more in the fifth.
In 10 tournament games Sunnyside outscored its opponents 112-19.
Yannira Acuña pitched both games for Sunnyside.
She “has a lot of heart,” Tapia said. “Her arm was a little tired, but she stuck it out for us at the end and got the win.”
Sunnyside’s win marked another big moment for Southern Arizona teams. The Nogales boys won the 50/70 intermediate World Series last week after hosting — and winning — their regional.