Alaska’s representative from the 12-14 year old softball state championships have won their third straight game at the Little League World Series in Kirkland, Washington.
“It is really cool to be sitting here at 3-0,” Nunaka Valley manager Richard Hill said. “It is pretty sweet.”
Anchorage’s Nunaka Valley Little League Junior Softball All Stars, an 18-3 victor over Prague Little League from the Czech Republic on Wednesday, have been here before.
Well, at least seven of them have.
Lauren Syrup, Hannah Peterson, Morgan Hill, Taria Page, Leilani Blair, Nanea Tali and Jacynne Augafa played in last season’s World Series.
“And it helps that five of those seven were at the World Series three years ago,” Hill said. “This has become something they do. They have become good ball players and have gained a lot of experience here. Plus a lot of the competition we are facing have not been here before.”
Nunaka Valley’s first two wins were over regional champions from the Southwest (Texas’ Eagle Pass LL 3-1) and the East (Connecticut’s West Haven LL 8-5).
Hill stated he liked to think the players were the machine and the coaches the fuel.
“I try and bring my passion to every inning,” Hill said. “And I like to hope that is contagious. The girls just stay focused and know every situation.”
The situation Wednesday against EMEA region champs Prague Little League, from the Czech Republic, involved jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the first inning and never looking back.
“I am not going to tell you I was completely relaxed,” Hill said. “But it did take the edge off.”
Once again Page helped take that edge off, going 3-4 at the plate with 3 Runs Scored, 5 RBI, and two home runs. Both round trippers came in the first inning, including a lead off homer and later with the bags full with Syrup, Sierra Rosenzweig, and Peterson on board.
Nunaka scored 18 runs on 16 hits with 6 Prague errors and the game was called via the mercy run rule. The Czech’s had 3 runs on 4 hits with 1 Alaska error.
Syrup got the mound win, pitching four innings, using 77 pitches with 41 strikes. Teighlor Rardon relieved with one inning of work, using 13 pitches with 10 strikes.
Hill stated that the team is treated well at the World Series.
“When you pull that shirt over your head and it says ‘West’ you are representing the West,” Hill said. “You see ‘Central’ and ‘Canada.’ It is the stuff you see on TV when you are watching Little League. You are part of it.”
Each team at the World Series is assigned an aunt and uncle who are local residents and serve as guardians.
Nunaka Valley’s are Jim and Alisha Portugal.
“They spoil these girls,” Hill said. “They loaded them up in a van after today’s game, took them to clean up at the hotel, then out to Lake Washington where there is all kinds of things to do. They have crab all boiled up, and beach volleyball. They are just going to hang out at Lake Washington for the next four hours.”
Nunaka Valley plays today (5:45 a.m. Alaska time) against Latin American champ, ASOFEM Little League from Maunabo, Puerto Rico. ASOFEM lost to West Haven LL 6-4 on Wednesday.
Records to date: Pool A - Southeast (Honaker, Virginia) 1-1, Central (Escanaba, Michigan) 0-2, Canada (Victoria, B.C.) 1-1, Host (Kirkland, Washington) 2-0; Pool B - East (West Haven, Connecticut) 3-1, Southwest (Eagle Pass, Texas) 0-3, Latin America (Maunabo, Puerto Rico) 2-1, EMEA (Prague, Czech Republic) 0-3, West (Anchorage, Alaska) 3-0.
The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals on Friday and the final is played on ESPN2 on Saturday at 1 p.m.