The first three hitters in Nunaka Valley's lineup combined for nine hits Friday night, which helped get the team off to a winning start at the Little League Junior Softball West Region tournament in Tucson, Ariz.
Taria Page, Leiani Blair and Morgan Hill each went 3 for 4, and Nunaka Valley generated a 10-6 victory over Southern California in seven innings.
Nunaka Valley advanced to a Saturday night game against Thornydale, Ariz., in the 11-team, double-elimination tournament for girls 12-14 years old.
"Always nice to get that first win,'' said Nunaka coach Richard Hill.
Hill said plating three runs in the top of the first inning helped his players calm their nerves in the opener.
The Alaskans never trailed, and used combined pitching from starter Lauren Syrup, reliever Hannah Peterson and long reliever Teighlor Rardon to prosper.
Hill drove in three runs and Page furnished two RBIs.
Blair, meanwhile, played two nights after getting a very cool surprise.
At the tournament banquet on Wednesday night, Hill said, the master of ceremonies asked Blair a series of trivia questions, the last of which was whether she could identify the person about to walk through the doorway.
In walked Blair's father, Steve, an Army soldier on leave from his deployment to Afghanistan and a vision for his stunned daughter.
Leiani cried and hugged her dad "for about four minutes,'' Hill said.
Hill said Steve Blair called District 5 administrators who run the tournament a week or so ago to plan the surprise, and the Nunaka team -- all players and coaches -- didn't have a clue.
"All of us were sitting there with our jaws dropped,'' Hill said. "It was about the most emotional thing I've ever seen.''