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'Canes unlikely winners

July 01, 2006|By Hamlet Nalbandyan

GLENDALE ? The first inning was dubious, to say the least.

Four errors by the Hurricanes led to three unearned runs by the Rowdie Girlz, which in most circumstances, would have decided the game.

But the Hurricanes are experts when it comes to overcoming the odds.

During the regular season, the Burbank-based Little League Major Softball squad finished third in District 16, so, the fact that it was playing in the Tri-Cities Tournament title game was a surprise to many.

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What was an even bigger surprise, though, was the Hurricanes' 6-4 victory Wednesday against the Rowdie Girlz, which crowned them champions of 2006.

"We're probably the youngest team in the entire league, so I don't think anybody expected us to do much," said Hurricane Coach Jim Valdivia, whose 11-player squad boasts just two 12-year-olds. "But these girls have no quit in them, and they peaked at the right time."

Especially when it came time to facing their fellow Burbank mates, the Rowdie Girlz.

In six meetings against the league's second-place finisher ? Crescenta Valley Little League's Fenway was the first-place finisher during the regular season ? the Hurricanes won four times, including Wednesday's final.

Big hits in timely situations paved the way for the come-from-behind victory.

It all started in the second inning ? after the Rowdie Girlz (24-6) had grabbed the early lead with just one base hit ? when catcher and lead-off batter Jessie Jones smacked a triple down the first-base line to tie the game at 3, and eventually come around to score on one of the Rowdie Girlz's four errors, three of which came in the second inning.

The Hurricanes (21-7) added some much-needed runs in the fourth, thanks to a two-run double to center by No. 2 batter Heather Haynes, which made the score, 6-3.

But as key as the Hurricanes' offense was, it was their defense down the stretch that paved the way to victory.

In the first three innings, the Hurricanes committed seven errors, but they had just one the rest of the way, during which they flashed some nice glove work

In the third, with a runner on second base, Laina Do made a diving catch in center field for the third out.

In the fifth, after the Rowdie Girlz's Meghan Stephenson opened with a single, third baseman Nalani Hernandez ended the threat by starting a beautifully crafted 5-4-3 double play.

"Both teams have great players, but they came up with the big plays, and that was the difference," Rowdie Girlz Coach Tom Guttry said.

Hallie White had two hits for the Rowdie Girlz, including a run batted in, and Allie Tello and Jen Phippen also added singles.

For the Hurricanes, who received a strong pitching performance from Emily Seidel, Ashley Russo had two hits.

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