Beverly Hills – The Santa Monica Little League Soft Ball All-Stars bested North Venice with a come-from-behind 22-21 victory last Wednesday in Beverly Hills to win the District 25 championship for nine and ten year old girls.
It is the first time since 2002 that a city Little League team has won the District All-Star trophy. “It was a wild game and our team just never gave up. At one point we were down 15-6 but our players battled back scoring the winning run in the bottom of the final inning,” noted head coach Victor Bracey following the championship win.
Santa Monica stayed in the winner’s bracket the entire tournament. West L.A. forfeited in the first round. In round two, the team faced perennial powerhouse North Venice and behind a complete game by pitcher Monica Norris, Santa Monica won 16-8.
In round three, Santa Monica faced Malibu who had outscored its first two opponents 48-8. Not to worry. Santa Monica pitcher Nina Bracey pitched a fantastic game allowing only one hit and one run as her team bested Malibu 11-1. That set the table for the championship game – a repeat against North Venice who battled to the final game through the losers bracket.
Once again, Monica Norris took the mound for Santa Monica but the early innings were tough for the entire team as Santa Monica gave up eight runs to North Venice in the first inning and trailed 15-6 after three and half innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Santa Monica rallied to score six runs and by the end of the fifth inning the tenacious Santa Monica crew had taken the lead 20-17. North Venice regained the lead 21-20 at the top of the sixth.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Santa Monica’s Valerie Casillas drew a based loaded walk bringing Nina Bracey home from third with the tying run. Then with a 2-2 count, Natalie Coutts cracked a walk-off grounder that brought Julie Munoz home from third base with the winning run as a wildly jubilant Santa Monica squad beat North Venice 22-21. The Santa Monica All-Stars now advance to the Little League Section 3 Tournament to face other District champions, starting with West Torrance on Friday, July 22.