Given an opening by an error, Nunaka Valley staged a seventh-inning rally and then stymied an attempt to match it by Eagle Pass, Texas, to get off to a successful start Monday with a 3-1 win at the Little League Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash.
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh and two out, Nunaka Valley's Leilani Blair reached on an infield error. Morgan Hill followed with an RBI double to left-center field and Felila Manu plated Hill with an RBI single up the middle for a 3-1 lead.
Eagle Pass loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the inning. But when Monica Rodriguez's drove the ball to right field on one hop to load the bases, Nunaka right fielder Lauren Syrup winged the ball to first baseman Hill in an attempt to get a force out at first. Hill grabbed the throw, then noticed Eagle Pass' Miryam Salinas wandering past second base. Hill ran across the infield toward Salinas and eventually threw to shortstop Taria Page, who tagged Salinas to end the game.
"That was pure Nunaka Valley - that's what we do,'' said Nunaka Valley manager Richard Hill. "We tell 'em, 'Throw the ball.' We live by the sword and die by the sword. We want to induce them off the bases and get them hung up.''
Defense served Nunaka Valley well. It made just one error, by third baseman Blair in the seventh, but ended the game on a sharp play and also turned two double plays.
Syrup pitched the first four innings, giving up four hits and one run, and striking out two. Hannah Peterson earned the win with three innings of scoreless relief. She struck out two.
After Eagle Pass (0-2) scored a first-inning run, Nunaka Valley (1-0) tied the game in the top of the third when Blair's single scored Peterson, who had been hit by a pitch and taken second base on a passed ball.
Julia Cruz pitched all seven innings for Eagle Pass and furnished what Richard Hill called the best pitching his club has faced this season.
This is the second straight year Nunaka Valley, which breezed through the West Region with four straight wins last week in Tucson, Ariz., has advanced to the World Series for girls 12-14 years old.
Nunaka Valley plays Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday at 1 p.m. ADT.