NORTHWEST GLENDALE — The nerves were there well before a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. They were there before an anxious fifth inning and a tight score in the third inning.
"I was nervous on Tuesday," Vaquero City Coach Alex Garcia said on Saturday.
"I couldn't sleep on Friday night."
She'll sleep well for the remainder of the week.
A year after losing to Crescenta Valley Mariners in the championship game, the City Minor Softball team avenged its loss to its rival with an 8-5 Tri-Cities Tournament title-clinching win at Pelanconi Park.
"I'm still speechless," Garcia said.
Her players weren't. They thoroughly enjoyed their celebration.
They had to endure tense moments in the sixth inning in order to do it.
With the bases loaded, City relief pitcher Alyssa Solano struck out the final two batters on nine pitches to clinch the win for her team. Solano was City's fourth pitcher of the afternoon, as she combined with Mireya Garcia, Valerie Hidalgo and Galilea Guzman to toss a two-hitter with 11 walks and seven strikeouts.
The quartet didn't allow a hit after the first inning, when Madeline Ellison, Summer Solomon and Rebecca Mencia each scored for the Mariners.
All four of City's pitchers saw limited action this year in the circle. Garcia had to rely on them because she used her starters earlier in the week and her aces had reached their six-inning limit for the week.
"I used all the beginners — future stars," Garcia said. "They worked really hard."
Hidalgo faced trouble in the fifth inning, as the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs. Taylor Schaffer and Keighley Cizek scored for the Mariners in the fifth inning. But Hidalgo retired the final two batters with runners in scoring position to preserve a three-run lead.
"That's the way the ball bounces," Mariners Coach Art Gamez said. "Whoever throws strikes is going to win the game."
Gamez faced the same dilemma as Garcia did, as he had to use three pitchers because his aces were at their limit for the week.
City's Natalie Campos, Clarissa Villela and Xochitl Garcia each scored a run in the first inning to tie the score at 3. Solano scored in the second inning before City took command with four runs in the third. Villela, who had a run-scoring single in the first, drove home three runs with a bases-clearing triple in the inning. Hidalgo, Villela, Alyssa Sinistera and Carolina Cabanna each scored in the inning.
"Clarissa has been hot all year," Alex Garcia said. "She's been trying really, really hard. She's been consistent."
She could finally smile in the end.
Said Garcia: "It's a sweet end."