The Tualatin-Newberg Major All-Stars blast through the district tourney to earn the automatic berth as host of the world championship tournament at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland

PORTLAND — When the Chehalem Park and Recreation Department switched its youth softball program to Little League, a short road to the World Series was a major attraction.

As members of Oregon District 4, which plays host to the World Series each summer at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Newberg would have an opportunity every year to qualify simply by winning the district tournament. by: DAN BROOD - Jubilation - Newberg's Maddie DeVerna (far right) hugs Camille Hall after the Tualatin-Newberg major All-Stars beat SW Portland-Lincoln 11-0 on Friday to earn an automatic berth to the Little League World Series at Alpenrose Dairy in Portland next month. DeVerna, who attends Open Bible School, hit .642 for the tournament.

It took just two years to turn that possibility into a reality, as the Newberg-Tualatin Majors All-Stars breezed through the district tournament with a 5-0 record last week at Alpenrose.

“This is our second year in Little League and I don’t think they could ask for much more than getting to where we’re at,” said Newberg and All-Stars coach Kevin Potter. “I don’t know if it surprised the community, but it didn’t surprise me. I knew from the beginning of the year that if we could team up with Tualatin, that would be the key.”

Newberg fielded two teams during the regular season and put five players — Maddie DeVerna, Kendra Gooding, CheyAnn Lang, Noelle Sawyer and Samantha Teran — on to the cooperative team with Tualatin City Little League.

Just DeVerna and Sawyer played on last year’s All-Star team, which fell in the district championship game, but the two groups meshed quickly this year, which has helped make for a smooth transition on the field.

The Newberg team Potter coached during the regular season and the Tualatin team led by All-Stars assistant coach Joey Hall were the top two teams during the regular season and that talent has shown through in the postseason.

“They move together now,” Potter said. “That’s the big thing we’ve been telling them, that if they all move together, the opposing team sees that, too.”

The opening game of the district tournament was nearly a disaster for the team, which some players refer to as “Tualaberg,” as it fell behind Willow Creek by one run and faced a bases-loaded situation going into the last inning.

DeVerna, who posted an on-base percentage just under 1.000 during the regular season, flashed her defensive skills to get her team out of the jam.

“The momentum was going all their way,” Potter said. “We had two outs and they hit a line drive to second base and everybody thought it was going to get through and she caught it. It was just an amazing catch and that was really the turning point of the whole tournament because we never looked back from that point.”

Tualatin-Newberg went on to win the game 11-8, then beat Southwest Portland-Lincoln 13-2 and Forest Grove 12-0, both in four innings, to earn the top seed for bracket play.

A 13-0 mercy-rule win (4 inn.) over Forest Grove put Tualatin-Newberg in the title game, where they thrashed Southwest Portland-Lincoln 11-0 in four innings.

“By far, this is the best game they had all tournament,” Hall said. “There have been a couple games where they started late or fell off at the end and still won, but we want to be focused for every pitch of the game. It was the best game they’ve played, near flawless.”

DeVerna was a force at the plate in the tournament, tying for the team lead with nine hits and posting a .642 average with two doubles from the clean-up spot.

Gooding, who is Potter’s step daughter, Sawyer and Teran also played for the Tualatin Illusion, an ASA 12U B team that will also play in the NAFA Nationals this weekend at Crater Elementary in Newberg. After that, the focus will return to preparing for the World Series, which will take place Aug. 6-14 at Alpenrose Stadium.

Potter expects to see a giant leap in the level of competition in playing teams from all over the world.

“We’re going to be facing pitchers that can blow the ball by some of our batters,” Potter said. “From what I understand, there are girls at this age and from these teams that can hit the ball over the fence almost at will. We’ll definitely have our hands full.”

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