Last summer, the Thornydale Little League 11- and 12-year-old softball all-star team finished third in Arizona.

This season, head coach Scott Coffey and his team are aiming higher.

"We are looking to win state," said Coffey. "These girls all mesh together really well, and they're ready to go out and win."

Coffey's team posted a 10-0 opening night victory over the Marana Little League All-Stars on Monday.

Thornydale will have to win fast – the road to the state championships lasts but three weeks.

"The district tournament will go for about a week and a half here, then up to Pinetop for state," said Coffey, who has coached in Thornydale Little League for five years and headed majors team The Extreme during the regular season.

If the rapid pace wasn't enough, defending the district championship won last season will be even tougher for Thornydale given the level of talent the team will face, said Coffey.

"There isn't going to be just one tough team," said Coffey. "There will be plenty of teams that will challenge us."

Whatever challenges lie ahead, Coffey said his team has been set to meet them for a while.

"They're all excited and ready to play – they've been practicing for about three weeks now," said Coffey before the opener. "They're ready for a game."

That energy, coupled with a high overall experience level, are just some of the reasons the coach thinks his team has what it takes.

"(The girls) are pretty much returning (all-stars) from the past four years, all played together for a long time," said the coach of his squad, which counts one 11-year-old on its roster.

Coffey's twin daughters – Jordyn, a first baseman, and Justyne, a second baseman – as well as Danni Molinar , Kailey Mellen, Celi Peralta and Sophie "Sox" Quick (favorite MLB team, Boston) are just a few of the stalwarts the coach said will be called on to step up during the short post-season.

Another is Jordan Bishop, the pitcher who orchestrated the opening night shutout for Thornydale on Monday.

While a victory over nearby Marana might be satisfying, Thornydale has its sights set on another Tucson-area squad.

"Our rival will be Sunnyside," said Coffey. "But we won't play them until state."

Defeating Sunnyside at state, which begins July 17th, would be great for Thornydale, but Coffey said their goals go beyond a rivalry game, to something the team has never experienced.

"(We want) to go on to regionals," said Coffey.

The regional tournament takes place in Vancouver, Wash. No Thornydale squad has advanced that far, according to Coffey.

Such a milestone isn't intimidating for the coach, who believes his girls can succeed on a national level.

"They talk well, there's no drama between any of them," said Coffey. "They're a bunch of good girls."

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