A week ago, the South Beaverton all-star softball team's main mission was to make the Little League Softball World Series, to win District Four and restore Beaverton-area supremacy.
Now, after toppling Tigard/Tualatin City in the best two-out-of-three D4 championship set, South Beaverton doesn't just want to win a game or two, play the role of accommodating host and usher in the world's best for a week of fun and festivities at the LLSWS.
Their intention is to win the whole thing and stand atop the globe as the preeminent program in all the land. Starting this week, South Beaverton — who is designated as Oregon District Four on the world stage after planting its flag on top of the conference — will take on teams from both the United States and around the world at the LLSWS in pool play at Alpenrose Stadium.
ODF began its quest on Aug. 9 against Southwestern (Waco, Texas). The results of that contest weren't available when the Valley Times went to press.
Subsequently, they'll play three more pool play games against Asia-Pacific on Thursday at 4 p.m., Latin America on Friday at 7 p.m. and Central (Floyd Knobs Community Club, Indiana) at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Oregon District Four, or ODF, is in the 'B' pool, along with the aforementioned four teams they'll face this week. Should ODF finish in the top-four of the pool, they'll advance to Monday and play on ESPN2 at a time to be determined based on their seeding. The semifinals at Tuesday and the championship game is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 on ESPN2.
"We're planning on playing on Tuesday," South Beaverton head coach Brenda Peterson said with a smile. "The team is super excited. Every game has successes and a win is part of that success. Defense is always key. We have great pitching. We have a great defense. We have a team that is supportive of each other. I don't have any liabilities on this team. I'm expecting everybody to play their part."
On Monday the team was picked up in a limo and whisked away by Northwest Photography and Easton Sports for head shots, team photos, new jerseys and equipment that they'll used this week. They checked into a downtown hotel near the Portland State campus and took in the opening ceremonies at Alpenrose on Tuesday night. All 10 teams participating in the LLSB stay in the same hotel including the hosting ODF.
And while ODF possibly won't have the luxury of sleeping in their own beds and sticking to the same gameday routines that helped them get to the big show, the South-Beaverton stars will certainly reap the benefits of playing close to home when it comes to the crowd.
As the Oregon representative who just so happens to hail from nearby Beaverton, ODF should have a distinct homefield advantage when it takes the field the next four games or so. With stands jammed full of pro-Beaverton patrons and plenty of fan support from around the state, South Beaverton should settle in quickly to the friendly confines. Plus, the D4 champs already got to strut their stuff and adjust to Alpenrose's optics during the district tournament. In that sense, they'll be ahead of the loaded field.
The competition, however, as Peterson pointed out, is between the white lines, not outside of the park. Peterson said the girls will have dance parties, they'll eat meals together, swim in the pool, make new friends and hang out as teenagers do. Peterson said the players' parents have been busy planning team dinners and excursions throughout the week while the coaches are doing everything they can to prepare for their opponents.
Pitcher Amanda Peterson, Brenda Peterson's daughter, threw a gem against TTC in the deciding championship tilt, going the full six innings while yielding just one run on five hits in the 9-1 rout last week. The right-handed power hurler got the ball against Southwest in game one and will lead the staff as they work into pool play. Left-hander Erica Eidson and right-handers Kendall Stout and Allison Olivio also will throw for Brenda Peterson. Amanda Peterson also can bring pop in the middle of the South Beaverton batting order. Stout (second baseman), shortstop Ashley Goodale, first baseman Hailey Stutzman and third baseman Chloe Arbow form a formidable two-way infield that is both stellar defensively and apt at the plate.
"I expect all of our girls to have production throughout the game," Brenda Peterson. "You hope your leadoff hitters can get on base and your three, four, five hitters (in the lineup) move them around to score. But, my six, seven, eight, nine hitters are just as good. They should all significantly participate in run production. My nine-hole is not my worst hitter, which is sometimes the case in softball."
Brenda Peterson anticipates all of her players will get in on the action and have a hand in how far South Beaverton advances. Erica Frainey, Elli Higginbotham, Mya Esuk, Rachel Powers, Lizzy Bradford and Alaina Baseleon each will chip in one way or the other whether it's offensively, defensively or providing important emotional, positive support from the dugout. Peterson is joined in the dugout by assitant coaches Mark Olivo and Darin Stout.
"Softball is a game of failure, you can't hit the ball into fair territory every single time, but you can contribute to the team if the day is not your day," Brenda Peterson said. "Sometimes the catcher just needs to be the catcher and let her team pick up the hits for her. Or maybe she struck out, but she moved the runner over from first to second on that at-bat. It's a hard game to play, but the girls are going to do their best and play as hard as they can."