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Bring on the world

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - READY TO GO -- The Tigard/Tualatin City team is set for action at the Little League Softball World Series, which starts Thursday at Alpenrose Stadium.TIGARD — You can hear the giggles.

There’s also plenty of laughter.

But don’t be fooled.

There’s a lot of hard work and preparation going on.

Not to mention plenty of support and encouragement.

Those are all big things for the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors all-star softball team.

And the team, which meshed together in impressive style, is aiming big — real big.

The Tigard/TC squad (also known as TNT), brimming with enthusiasm, is taking some high hopes along with its excitement, into the Little League Softball World Series, which starts today (Thursday) and runs through Wednesday at Alpenrose Stadium in Southwest Portland.

“I’m real excited to get to play at the World Series with these girls,” Tigard/Tualatin City shortstop Bella Valdes said after a practice last week at Cook Park. “It’s going to be an amazing experience.”

“I’m really looking forward to riding in a limo,” said Carly Atwood, who added that her birthday will occur during the World Series on Tuesday.

The Tigard/Tualatin City team earned its amazing experience, as well the limo ride, by defeating Willow Creek 3-0 in the District 4 Tournament championship game July 18 at Alpenrose Stadium.

With that victory, the TNT squad earned the World Series bid as the Oregon District 4 representative.

That’s when all the excited started.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - GETTING READY -- Members of the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League softball team start to stretch out prior to a practice last week at Cook Park.“It still feels like the night we won,” TNT outfielder/pitcher Tia Cordts said. “Every single night since then, I’ve thought about the World Series before I go to sleep.”

And she’s thinking about World Series success.

“Our goal is to get to the semifinals,” Cordts said. “I want to do real well with these girls.”

Chris Cordts, the manager of the Tigard/Tualatin City team, also is aiming high.

“We’re going to try and get on ESPN,” Chris Cordts said, referencing the fact the World Series semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN2. “We want to get to the semifinals. And, if we get there, then we’ll set some new goals.”

The Tigard/TC team says that it has what it takes to reach those lofty aspirations.

“We’ve got great pitching and defense, and we’re aggressive on the bases,” Chris Cordts said. “These girls have worked really hard, and they’ve earned it.”

And, they say, they know what it’s going to take to be successful.

“Attitude and effort,” Leah Sandoz said, referring to the team’s motto. “Those are the only things we can control. And we’re going to need to stay positive.”

“We’re going to need to work together as a team,” Tia Cordts said. “And pick each other up.”

“If we work hard, and play well, we can do it,” Tigard/TC catcher Alexis Klum said.

The World Series will feature 10 teams — six from various regions of the United States, one from Canada, one from the Philippines, one from the Czech Republic and one from Puerto Rico.

The Tigard/Tualatin City squad will play in the opening game of the World Series, when it faces Central Region champion Tallmadge Little League, from Tallmadge, Ohio, in a pool play game starting at 10 a.m. today at Alpenrose Stadium.

“I’m going to be both excited and nervous,” Tigard/TC third baseman Brooke Clinton said. “But I’m going to use the energy from both.”

The Tigard/TC squad should have plenty of momentum on its side going into today’s World Series opener. The team went 6-0 at the District 4 Tournament, outscoring its opponents by a total margin to 53-15.

“This is a great group of girls,” Chris Cordts said. “It’s a pleasure to coach them.”

“I feel blessed to get to coach 13 different characters — if only they’d stop talking for 10 minutes,” he added with a smile.

Yeah, it’s no secret that this team likes to have a good time.

“It’s fun,” Tia Cordts said. “We practice hard, but it’s mostly fun.”

And the Tigard/TC team is looking to continue having fun at the World Series.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - EYE ON THE (TINY) BALL -- Brooke Clinton gets her bat on a small ball during a practice batting drill. “I’m looking forward to bonding more,” Tigard/TC first baseman first baseman Jennifer Redfern said. “I want to get to know everyone.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the teams,” Tia Cordts said. “And playing some competitive softball.”

“I’m excited to be going to the World Series with this team,” Gillian Livingston said. “We’ve bonded really well.”

“It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime,” Valdes said. “We can talk about it forever.”

For most players, competing in the Little League Softball World Series is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But that’s not case for all of them.

Tigard/Tualatin City pitcher Elizabeth Hillier and outfielder Kendra Zuckerman both played for the Tualatin City Little League team that went 2-3 in the 2013 Little League Softball World Series.

“It’s amazing,” Zuckerman said of getting to play in the World Series two years in a row. “I want to make new memories.”

“It means a lot,” said Hillier, who pitched five shutout innings for the Tigard/TC team in the district championship game. “I was talking to my pitching coach, and he said not many people get to play in the World Series even once.”

Hillier, who struck out 13 batters for Tualatin City in a 6-5 win over Puerto Rico in last year’s World Series, says she’ll benefit this year from last year’s experience.

“Now, I know what to do and what not to do,” she said. “And, this year, I want to talk to the other teams more. “I didn’t do that enough last year.”

On Friday, Tigard/Tualatin City will face Columbus, Ga., the Southeast regional champion, at 7 p.m. in a pool play contest. On Saturday, the TNT team will play Prague, from the Czech Republic, in a 4 p.m. pool play game.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT -- Tigard/Tualatin City's Tia Cordts smacks the ball during the team's practice last week in Cook Park.The Tigard/Tualatin City squad will finish pool play Sunday when it plays Maunabo, Puerto Rico, at 10 a.m.

The Tigard/TC team will play at least one other World Series game.

The World Series semifinals will be played Aug. 12 at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and the championship game is set for 6 p.m. on Aug. 13. The semifinals and championship game will all be broadcast live on ESPN2.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Chris Cordts said. “Any time you can help a group of girls reach a goal that they’ve set, it’s very rewarding.”

Other members of the Tigard/TC team that will be playing in the Little League Softball World Series include Nicole Box, Emily Harms and Logan Mentzer. Frank Redfern and Derek Atwood are coaches with the team.

There is no admission fee to attend the Little League Softball World Series.