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Rain puts damper on Thunder’s championship plans

Jeff Tully

With a name like the Burbank Thunder, the youth softball team should

have expected a little rain.

However, taking part in the National Softball Assn. 2003 World

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Series in Beaumont, Texas, local the 12-and-under squad wasn’t

prepared for the amount of rain and humidity experienced in the elite

tournament two weeks ago.

Despite the hardships, the Thunder put together a fine performance

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to finish second.

“It was quite an experience for us,” said Thunder Coach Mike

Peraza, whose team plays in the Burbank Park, Recreation and

Community Services Department Ponytail League.

“The rain was pretty crazy and it delayed some of the games.

Because of that, the schedule was pushed back and we came close to

almost missing our plane flight home.”

Along with the hassle getting back to Burbank, the Thunder had a

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tough time coming up with enough money to attend the tournament.

However, after months of fund-raising with car washes, making gift

baskets and selling root beer floats, the team finally raised enough

money to attend.

With months of anticipation finally over, the Thunder showed they

were a force to be considered in their opening game in the

double-elimination tourney against the Bruisers.

With Bri Casillas behind the plate, pitcher Kristin Peraza threw a

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no-hitter to lead Burbank to a 5-0 victory. Sydney Dunivant hit a

single in the second inning to drive in two runs and Kayla Gurley

came through with a hit in the fifth for two more runs. A sacrifice

fly in the sixth by Peraza tallied the final run.

In the second game, the Thunder continued to roll, as it defeated

the Cougars, 12-3. Burbank cranked out 13 hits, including a home run

by Gurley and a single by Jessica Flores.

“Our third game came against the Texas state champions, the

Bombers,” Peraza said. “We knew they had a very good team, but we

were determined to go out there and see if we could upset them.”

The Thunder did just that, as they beat the Bombers, 6-4.

Casillas got the victory in the circle, and was helped out on

defense by some fine plays by shortstop Megan Klute and outfielder

Jasmine Lee, who robbed the Bombers of two potential hits. Catcher

Jessica Cabrera also played well for Burbank.

In a rematch against the Cougars, the Thunder was again up to the

task, as the locals found a way to win, 2-0.

The big hit for Burbank came from Janine Perez, who hammered a

triple that scored Cabrera and Casey Reichelderfer, who had both

singled.

The Thunder won another game and suffered its first loss leading

into the final day of the event.

Then the rains came.

After it rained most of the day, games scheduled for the morning

and afternoon had to be pushed back until the evening. Playing well

into the night, some games didn’t finish until after midnight.

In a semifinal game, Burbank adapted to the damp conditions and

proceeded to defeat the Panthers, 7-3.

Kristin Peraza did a fine job in the circle, and was backed up

with a double play in the fourth inning by Reichelderfer and Gurley.

Peraza also got out of the fifth inning on just three pitches.

Making it to the championship game, the Thunder had to make a

decision -- to play or to try or miss their flight back home.

Because of the rain delay, playing in the game would have caused

the Thunder to miss their flight, something the team couldn’t afford.

So the team took its second-place trophy and scampered to the

airport to try and make its flight.

“It was like the ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World’ move, us running

through the airport trying to make the flight. It was such a big

effort to get there in time, but we just made it,” Peraza said.

Peraza said he contacted the airline the team was flying on to see

if it was possible to book a later flight. However, the ticket change

would have cost the Thunder an additional $2,500, money the team just

didn’t have.”

“It was a good lesson for us,” Peraza said. “Sometimes you have to

deal with a situation the best way that you can.

“I’m just proud of our players and how they handled it all.”


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