- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

The hand-written message “No. 2 in the World, No. 1 in Our Hearts” on the Hoopii family’s car sums up how most McLean residents feel about their All-Star Little League softball team.

Kakana Hoopii and her teammates were the first Virginia team to reach the Little League Softball World Series, but lost 18-5 in the championship game Thursday night to a team from Waco, Texas.

“I’m extremely proud,” said Gigi Hoopii, Kakana’s mother. “They’re a great bunch of girls. To get that far was icing on the cake.”

Mrs. Hoopii has watched the girls play in the McLean league for two years and knows they didn’t play their best game.

Thirteen of Waco’s 18 runs were unearned.

Mrs. Hoopii said the girls were somber after their loss to the defending champions.

Kakana “was afraid she’d let me down,” said Mrs. Hoopii, who bought her daughter a Himalayan kitten and made candy leis for her 13 teammates, all 12 years old.

“They didn’t bring their best game, but that doesn’t diminish what they’ve accomplished this season,” said Brian Eidt, father of Sarah Eidt, a pitcher and outfielder. “They won the state championship, the southern regional championship, and took five of six games against the best in the world. That’s pretty darn good.”

Diana McColgan said that after the game she gave her daughter, Lauren, a big hug and said, “I love you.”

The girls thought they could have played better, too.

“There were tears,” Mrs. McColgan said. “But the parents took it harder.”

She traveled to Portland, Ore., to watch the series, but said 15 people promised to tape the games, which were televised on ESPN.

Mrs. McColgan plans to throw a big party in a few weeks when the players have recovered from all the travel, intensity and attention.

Despite the obvious disappointment, the girls said they were able to enjoy their time out west.

“We did more than just softball,” said Lauren Sanata, who pitched in the championship game.

“We hung out, watched movies and stuff. And we went to the beach. The water was really cold.”

The team went 5-1 in the state competition, then a perfect 5-0 in the regionals.

A hero’s welcome was planned for the girls last night at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and McLean Little League organizers are holding a picnic for them at 5 p.m. tomorrow at McLean Little League Park.

In the championship game in the 11-12 age group, Waco’s Valerie Ramirez pitched a three-hit complete game, allowing no earned runs. She also helped her own cause with a second-inning RBI triple and a two-run double in the sixth inning.

The Waco team took control in the second inning, when four McLean errors led to five runs. McLean closed to 8-5 in the fourth, but Waco added three runs in the fifth and seven in the sixth. The win gave Waco their 11th World Series title in the past 13 seasons.

Lauren Sanata and Rachel Ing of McLean each had doubles.

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