Posted: Aug 15, 2013 11:20 PM by Samantha Ptashkin
Updated: Aug 19, 2013 11:06 AM
TUCSON- The Sunnyside Little League Team started their journey at Mission Manor Park, where they held their first practice. Little did they know, the girls would return to the park at the end of the season as champions.
The team flew into Tucson International Airport from Oregon Thursday afternoon, fresh off their 9-0 victory over Virginia. "It was unreal, very unreal," says Pitcher Jazmine Ayala.
Sunnyside District band members and cheerleaders were on hand to greet the 13 players, along with family and friends. "I was amazed because I didn't know there were going to be this many people," Ayala says.
Even after days of practice and hard work on the field, the girls' spirit remained strong. "This is overwhelming," Coach Rene Ayala says. "It's just an inspiration for all of us to have the community behind us."
Rene Ayala is not only the team's coach, he's also Jazmine's father and now they share a special bond. Rene won the Junior League baseball World Series in 1992.
After exiting TIA, the team hopped on a bus to head to Mission Manor Park. A fire truck led the parade and when the girls arrived, fans held signs and greeted them at the baseball field.
"We love our athletes, we love our girls," Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said in a speech.
Gov. Jan Brewer also issued a statement saying "Congratulations to Tucson's own Sunnyside Little League softball team on its historic victory. Last night, Sunnyside shut out a Virginia team 9-0 to earn the 2013 Little League Softball World Series championship title."
In the statement, Brewer also says Sunnyside is the first ever team from Arizona to take home the title.
They are thirteen girls who are making Southern Arizona proud, but most importantly they're making themselves proud. "We worked very hard as a team, built each other up and helped each other," says Outfielder Destyni Payan.
Payan actually suffered a concussion five days before the game. While she is sad she couldn't play, she says she is so happy for her team.
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