Northwest Little League Complex.
And in the most pressure-packed situation of Glendale's entire
summer, Muirhead stepped to the challenge against a quality South
Everett (Wash.) team, helping her team to a 5-3 win and its second
straight appearance in the Little League World Series in
After pitching the fifth inning of the defending World Series
champion's 18-0 mercy-rule victory against South Everett in
Wednesday's first game, Muirhead came back to toss a complete game,
allowing eight hits, a walk and one earned run to lift her squad to
its fourth victory in as many days against the Division 1 champion.
"She threw an absolutely fabulous game," said Miller of the
left-hander, who threw 76 pitches, 56 for strikes, retiring 10 in a
row at one stretch.
"She had never thrown in a game of this magnitude before and then
she has bases loaded in the seventh, but she made the pitches when
she had to all day long."
Muirhead -- who boasts a 1.21 earned-run average in 29 postseason
innings -- induced a groundout to second baseman Valerie Estrella to
record the final out and then moments later had the opportunity to
extend her 15 minutes of fame by joining play-by-play man Ron Davis
for a post-game interview on the ISI Sports Network, which was
broadcasting an audio-only feed of the game on Charter Communications
Channel 25 back in Glendale.
"This is such a great experience, it's like a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity," said Muirhead, who rebounded from a tough 6-3,
eight-inning loss Monday to East Redding, in which she tossed 132
pitches in her complete-game effort.
"These girls are like my idols because they've already had the
opportunity to go and play in a World Series.
"I was very nervous [in the seventh] because I was thinking back
to Monday and how I didn't want that to happen again. It was running
through my mind a lot, but all the sacrifices and all the setbacks
are all worth it now."
Said Stauffer: "She did a great job. Realistically, the game
shouldn't have been that close [because of two two-out errors that
Glendale committed in the fifth, leading to two unearned runs], but
for having never been in a situation like that before, she really
stepped up to the plate."
But Muirhead's sweet ending to her regional tournament experience
was almost soured earlier in the game, as she allowed Priscilla Lopez
to pass her during Lopez's fourth-inning home run trot, resulting in
an out and making the score, 2-1, instead of 3-1.
"All I wanted to do was give her a high five, but I didn't realize
that I had to touch home plate first," said Muirhead, who walked
earlier in the inning.
"But that [miscue] inspired me to throw harder because I knew that
we should have had another run."
Afteward, Muirhead's father, Rich, joked with Miller when he told
him that if his daughter's lapse had cost Glendale the game that he
would have taken her and driven back to Southern California right
after the game.
Fortunately for Muirhead, and for Glendale, she traded in that
long drive for a shorter and much more anticipated trip to Kentucky.