The Nunaka Valley girls, who two years ago reached the ultimate international tournament in their softball age group, on Thursday prospered in their latest quest to return to the big stage.
Nunaka Valley opened the Little League Junior Softball Western Regional with a 9-2 victory over Utah in the stifling heat of Marana, Ariz.
Gabby Meyerson and Taria Page each went 3 for 4 and each tripled. Meyerson drove in four runs.
Sydney Smith pitched the first four innings for the team of 13- and 14-year-olds, and Heather Breslin wrapped up the win by going the last three innings.
Nunaka Valley manager Richard Knowles said the temperature was 106 degrees when the game started, but the sun went behind clouds for most of the game and provided the Alaskans some relief.
Nunaka Valley tonight plays Sunnyside Little League of Arizona.
Many of the girls on this Nunaka Valley team played on the 2009 team of 11- and 12-year-olds who won the Western Regional and advanced to Little League Softball World Series.
"That'll benefit us in the long run,'' Knowles said.
The winner of this nine-team Western Regional advances to the Little League Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash.