SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Sunnyside Little League will get a second chance to defeat California representative Granada Hills in the Little League Softball West Regionals. This time, they say they'll be wide awake and ready to continue playing outstanding defense.
Third baseman Viviana Orantez drew a first-inning walk Thursday night and scored on two stolen bases and an errant throw, sparking Sunnyside to a 1-0 West Regional semifinal victory over the Oregon representative, the Portland/Powell/Taborvilla Little League.
The winner of tonight's game, which starts at 6 p.m., will go to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore. The tournament begins Aug. 8.
Three Sunnyside pitchers threw two innings apiece to shut out the Oregon representative. Sunnyside coach Manuel Tapia said all of his pitchers will be available for tonight's final.
"If a pitcher pitches three innings, they must rest for a day," Tapia said, explaining why he gave Jazmine Ayala, Yanira Acuña and Zuleika Barnett a turn in the pitching circle.
"The game was very tense, and we couldn't get our bats going, so we had to rely on our defense."
Sunnyside didn't make a defensive mistake. Outfielders Angel Sallas and Danitza Aguirre both had outfield assists, and no Oregon batter reached third base.
Acuña had a double and a triple for Sunnyside, and it took a good play by Oregon shortstop Stephanie Lopez to retire her in the first inning. Orantez drew two walks, and Aguirre and Anacely Gutierrez each had a single.
Sunnyside reached the 12-and-under West Regional Championship game last year before suffering a 5-4 loss to Hawaii. Acuña, Orantez, Sallas and teammate Arlett Arreola all played on the 2012 team.
"We have a stronger team with more pitchers and better defense," said the speedy Orantez, who also likes volleyball and dancing. "I believe in our team, and we deserve to be in the championship."
Sunnyside is 16-1 in the postseason, their only loss coming last Friday against the same Granada Hills team it will face tonight.
The Sunnyside squad left Tucson last week at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and the vans arrived at 3 a.m. Thursday morning.
"I think the kids were nervous and a little tired," Tapia said. "We have played excellent defense since that game."
• What: Sunnyside vs. Granada Hills (Calif.), championship game
• Where: San Bernardino, Calif.
• When: 6 p.m.