SUU Strategic Communications

SUU Softball Assistant Reflects on Softball World Series

August 18, 2014
By SUU Strategic Communication

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CEDAR CITY, Utah - The Little League World Series is in full swing with teams from all over the world converging in Williamsport, Penn. At the same time in Portland, Ore., an international pool of teams also gather for the Little League Softball World Series, an event that newly appointed assistant softball coach Holley Garcia appeared in the finals in 2001 and 2002.

Garcia, formerly Gentsch, played in the Midway Little League in Waco, Texas and saw a wealth of success with the team, picking up a state championship in 2000 and then advancing to back-to-back finals in the LLSWS in 2001 and 2002.

Her team breezed through the 2001 tournament with an 11-3 victory in game one over Wheelersburg, Ohio, a 19-4 win in game two over the Netherlands squad and a 16-0 win over the Philippines. Garcia's team met its first challenge in the semifinals where the team posted a 4-2 victory over a team from Kirkland, Wash. and advanced to face a Puerto Rican side in the finals. The game was decided by a late run with the Latin America team posting the 4-3 win.

"I remember that the championship game was also on the first day of school, so our class back in Texas was watching," Garcia recalled. "Losing in the final really just fueled our team's fire to get back to the championship game again the next year."

The team did just that in 2002 with the tournament expanded to 10 teams and opened the week with a 16-5 win over a team from Warrington, Penn. The team suffered a loss in its next game, a 1-0 defeat to a Beaverton, Ore. side, but bounced back with three straight wins: a 10-3 win over Puerto, Rico; a 13-3 win over Canada and an 8-1 win over a South Bend, Ind. squad.

The run led to a rematch with Beaverton, Ore. and Garcia's team was able to overcome a partial hometown crowd with a desire to uphold the legacy that her team had established, a legacy that had included championship titles in 1993-1995 and 1997-2000.

"It really wouldn't have mattered who we were playing at that moment," she said. "Our team knew we could win and we had a reputation of winning at that tournament. We were playing to uphold that tradition."

The 12-year-old Garcia helped the team to the 6-1 victory, capturing the title and beginning a third run for the team that included two more titles in 2003 and 2004 to cement the team's legacy at the tournament.

That legacy continued the next year in 2003 when the Midway Little League advanced to the semifinals of the Junior League Softball World Series.

The championship success motivated Garcia to pursue collegiate softball, where she was a standout at Texas Tech University, helping the Red Raiders to three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. Garcia will look to help the Thunderbirds back to the NCAA postseason, joining the Southern Utah coaching staff last week.