TC rallies to get a 6-5 victory against Puerto Rico

by: DAN BROOD - VICTORY CELEBRATION -- Tualatin City's Kendra Gooding (second from right) is greeted by teammates (from left) Noelle Sawyer, Ella Hillier and Elizabeth Hillier after she drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded walk in Sunday's game at the Little League Softball World Series.PORTLAND — Thrills and chills.

Nerve-wracking, nail-biting moments.

Loud, boisterous crowds on both sides of the field.

Plenty of intensity, and a little bit of praying.

This game seemed to have it all.

But, maybe most importantly for the Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team, the game included a thrilling, come-from-behind victory.

Tualatin City, behind a furious late-inning rally, notched an exhilarating 6-5 win over ASOFEM Little League, from Maunabo, Puerto Rico, in a Little League Softball World Series pool play game played Sunday at Alpenrose Stadium.

“This is a big win,” said Tualatin City outfielder Kendra Gooding, who drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to bring home Lily Marshall with the game-winning run. “I'll remember this.”

by: DAN BROOD - POWER PITCHER -- Tualatin City pitcher Elizabeth Hillier struck out 13 batters in her team's 6-5 win over Puerto Rico Sunday at the Little League Softball World Series.“This was really exciting,” said TC outfielder Samantha Teran, who had a hit in the team's three-run fifth inning.

“I was sitting out there (on second base, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning) praying that we'd win,” Tualatin City first baseman Lindsay Stadick said. “This means a lot to us.”

Puerto Rico, the Latin America representative to the World Series, moved to 1-2 in pool play competition with the setback.

The Tualatin City team, which also includes players from Newberg Little League and is the Oregon District 4 representative, finished its pool play schedule with a 2-2 record following its second straight World Series victory.

“That's good,” Teran said of the 2-2 record. “We've done well after having some jitters in the first two games.”

“That was fun,” said Tom Hillier, who was filling in as Tualatin City's manager in Sunday's game. “I'm really proud of the girls.”

“We were confident we could win,” Stadick said.

by: DAN BROOD - COLLISION COURSE -- Tualatin City shortstop Noelle Sawyer (left) is about to tag out Puerto Rico's Omaris Torres on a stolen base attempt during Sunday's game at the Little League Softball World Series.The confident Tualatin City club took an early 1-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Maddie DeVerna led off the frame with a walk and, after moving to second base on a groundout by Marshall and then advancing to third on a groundout by Ella Hillier, she scored when Puerto Rico couldn't handle Stadick's hard-hit grounder.

But the Puerto Rico squad came storming back. The Latin America champs got a run in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. In the third inning, Joselyn Ortiz hit a leadoff triple and she ended up scoring on an error to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

Puerto Rico then scored three more runs, two coming in on a triple by Karla Santiago, in the top of the fifth inning to boost its lead to 5-1. But the four-run deficit didn't seem to deter Tualatin City.

“I wasn't giving up,” Stadick DAN BROOD - CLOSE PLAY -- Tualatin City first baseman Lindsay Stadick (left) stretches for the ball as Puerto Rico's Alejandra Rodriguez runs to the bag in Sunday's game at the Little League Softball World Series.

“Some of the girls thought we were out of it,” Gooding said. “But we knew it could happen again.”

That's right, the Tualatin City team has come from behind before. It happened in the team's first game at the District 4 tournament back on July 15. In that contest, TC trailed Willow Creek 8-6 going into the sixth inning before rallying for an 11-8 victory.

“I reminded the girls of the comeback we had at district,” Tom Hillier said.

The never-say-die Tualatin City squad started its World Series rally in the bottom of the fifth inning.

DeVerna walked to lead off the frame. She moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Marshall before coming around to score on back-to-back wild pitches, trimming the margin to 5-2.

Tualatin City kept rolling from there. Ella Hillier and Stadick drew consecutive walks, both coming on 3-2 pitches. They each moved up a base on a groundout by Noelle Sawyer and then then each scored when Puerto Rico overthrew first base following a grounder by Gooding, making the score 5-4.

by: DAN BROOD - SLIDING SAVE -- Tualatin City's Kendra Zuckerman slides safely to third base as the ball zips past her during Sunday's game at the Little League Softball World Series.Teran kept the inning going with a line-drive single to left field.

“I got up and wanted to make sure to get a hit or just to get on base,” Teran said. “It was my chance to hit, and I'm so glad she didn't catch it.”

Puerto Rico got an inning-ending groundout to get out of that jam, but momentum clearly seemed to be on Tualatin City's side at that point.

TC pitcher Elizabeth Hillier put Puerto Rico down in order in the top of the sixth inning to set up the dramatics in the bottom of the frame.

CheyAnn Lang and DeVerna each walked to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Marshall then bunted into a fielder's choice, with Lang being thrown out at third base. The next TC batter struck out, leaving the squad just one out away from defeat.

Stadick was up next, but her at-bat didn't get off to a promising start, as she was quickly facing a 0-2 count.

“I was freaking out a little bit,” Stadick said. “But I wasn't worried. I wanted to stay disciplined at the plate.”

That strategy paid off. Stadick ended up walking on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

Sawyer then drew a four-pitch walk, bringing home DeVerna with the tying run.

Gooding then stepped to the plate in the tie game with the bases loaded and two outs.

“There was a lot of pressure,” she said.

That pressure then mounted as Gooding, too, found herself facing a 3-2 count.

But still, even during a Puerto Rico time out, she had a big smile on her face.

“He kept telling me to smile,” Gooding said, referring to Tom Hillier.

“I was trying to get her to relax,” Hillier said.

by: DAN BROOD - HAPPY HUG -- Tualatin City's Lindsay Stadick (left) hugs Ella Hillier after they both scored in the fifth inning in Sunday's Little League Softball World Series. Tualatin City rallied to score a 6-5 win over Puerto Rico.The next pitch sailed above Gooding's head, sending her to first base and bringing home Marshall from third with the winning run.

“I thought we were still playing until our first-base coach told me we won,” Gooding said. “Then I just ran over to the other girls. I'm not usually in the middle of a group hug like that.”

“I was so happy,” Stadick said. “Because I knew we won.”

“I was praying,” Teran said of the game's final at-bat. “It was cool to come back like that.”

“It was fun, but I don't get paid enough for that,” Tom Hillier said with a smile.

Elizabeth Hiller, pitching the entire game, came up big for TC in the victory. In six innings of work, she gave up four hits while striking out 13 batters and walking four.

“She did really well,” Tom Hillier said. “She kept her walks down.”

Tualatin City had just two hits in the game — singles by Sawyer and Teran — but the squad drew 12 walks. DeVerna, TC's leadoff batter, walked in all four of her plate appearances and scored three runs.

Tualatin City will finish play at the Little League Softball World Series Wednesday when it faces Asia-Pacific representative Iloilo Little League, from Iloilo Province, Philippines, in the seventh-place game, starting at 10 a.m.

For a complete story and more photos from this game, as well as from Tualatin City's other World Series games, see the Aug. 15 issue of the Tigard/Tualatin Times.

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