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Hard-hitting Central champ from Ohio gets a 10-1 victory

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - PLAY AT THE PLATE -- Central catcher Jordyn Severns (left) forces out Tigard/Tualatin City's Kendra Zuckerman at home plate in the first inning of Thursday's Little League World Series softball game.PORTLAND — Some first-game jitters.

A few mistakes.

An injury to a key player.

And a hard-hitting Central team.

It all added up to a World Series-opening loss for the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors all-star softball team.

But, none of those things seemed to detract from the local squad's fun, nor from its intention to come back strong.

The Tigard/TC team was still brimming with smiles and high hopes following a 10-1 loss to Tallmadge, Ohio, the Central region champion, in a Little League Softball World Series pool play opener played Thursday at Alpenrose Stadium.

“That was a lot of fun,” Tigard/Tualatin City outfielder Carly Atwood said after the game. “At the beginning, there was a bunch of pressure. But then, we thought of it as just another game and calmed down.”

“It was exciting to play in the first game of the World Series,” said Tigard/TC outfielder Emily Harms, who drove in the team's run in the contest.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - THE DELIVERY -- Tigard/Tualatin City pitcher Elizabeth Hillier fires a pitch to the plate in the first inning of Thursday's Little League Softball World Series opener.With the win, the Central team jumped out to a 1-0 start to World Series play.

Tigard/Tualatin City, representing Oregon District 4, got off to a 0-1 start to World Series play with the loss, but the local team is looking to come back strong.

“We need to keep our attitude up the next game,” Tigard/Tualatin City third baseman Brooke Clinton said. “Then we'll be more ourselves.”

“We want to win,” Tigard/TC pitcher Elizabeth Hillier said.

“We're going to come back 100 percent, and kick butt,” Tigard/TC outfielder pitcher Tia Cordts said.

Tigard/Tualatin City, which faces Southeast representative Pioneer Little League from Columbus, Ga., on Friday, is hoping it will have Bella Valdes back in action in that contest.

Valdes, the team's starting shortstop and an offensive spark plug, suffered a sprained left ankle in Thursday's opener. She sustained the injury sliding to second base in the bottom of the first inning.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - CAUGHT STEALING -- Tigard/Tualatin City shortstop Bella Valdes (left) holds up the ball after tagging out Central's Katelyn Hussing on a stolen-base attempt.“That hurt, playing without our starting shortstop,” Tigard/TC manager Chris Cordts said.

“That was a real momentum-changer,” Tigard/TC coach Derek Atwood said.

Tigard/Tualatin City ended up using three different players at shortstop after Valdes' injury.

“I was so bummed that I got hurt,” Valdes said. “But I hope I'll be back tomorrow.”

Central grabbed a quick 1-0 lead in Thursday's game with a run in the top of the first inning. Jordyn Severns drew a leadoff walk and she ended up scoring on a groundout by Lauren Tecca to give the Ohio team its early one-run advantage.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - WORLD SERIES ACTION -- Tia Cordts (left), playing at shortstop for Tigard/Tualatin City, looks to grab the ball as Central's Elizabeth Bickar heads to second base.Tigard/Tualatin City came roaring back in the bottom of the first inning. Carly Atwood led off the frame with a line-drive single to center field. Valdes followed with a bunt single, with Atwood advancing all the way to third base on the hit. It was on this play that Valdes suffered her injury.

Alexis Klum then drew a walk to load the bases with no outs in the inning.

Central pitcher Emily Pratt coaxed back-to-back fielder's choice grounders, with Atwood and pinch-runner Kendra Zuckerman both getting thrown out at the plate.

But Harms, batting next for Tigard/Tualatin City with the bases still loaded, drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, bringing home Klum to tie the game at 1-1.

“I was nervous,” Harms said of her first at-bat of the World Series. “I just wanted to get her in.”

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - SMACK -- Tigard/Tualatin City's Emily Harms hits a fourth-inning single in Thursday's World Series game.The game was still tied at 1-1 going into the third inning, but, the Central team broke through at that point, scoring six times in the frame.

Pratt had the big hit of the inning for Central, with a three-run double that plated Elizabeth Bickar, Melina Cioffi and Giavanna Spitali, giving the team a 5-1 lead at that point. Delanie Dadich added a two-run single later in the frame, upping the margin to 7-1.

Central, with Pratt driving in another run, scored three more times in the top of the fourth inning to push the lead to 10-1.

But Tigard/Tualatin City kept battling throughout.

The Oregon District 4 squad got a two-out single from Tia Cordts in the bottom of the third inning, a leadoff single from Harms in the fourth, a two-out single from Klum in the fifth inning and a two-out single by Hillier in the bottom of the sixth.

Meanwhile, Tigard/Tualatin City got a pair of sparkling defensive plays from Zuckerman in right field. First, she made a sprinting catch of a foul ball off the bat of Severns in the third inning. Then, in the top of the fifth, Zuckerman had to sprint to foul territory again, this time making a spectacular diving catch of a ball hit by Tecca to end the frame.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - FOR THE DEFENSE -- Tigard/Tualatin City pitcher Elizabeth Hillier (right), with catcher Alexis Klum and third baseman Brooke Clinton behind her, makes a throw to first base after fielding a bunt.“I was hoping I had it,” Zuckerman said with a smile. “That catch made me happy.”

Tigard/Tualatin City had six hits in the contest, singles by Klum, Tia Cordts, Carly Atwood, Harms, Hillier and Valdes.

Hillier pitched the first three and a third innings for the District 4 team. She gave up seven earned runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking three. Tia Cordts threw the final two and two-thirds innings. She gave up no runs on two hits while striking out two and walking none.

“We were just a little (lackadaisical) on defense in that one inning, and they put up a crooked number,” Chris Cordts said. “You can't take an inning off in the World Series. But we'll come back strong tomorrow and play our game.”

For Central, Pratt pitched all six innings, giving up one run on six hits while striking out eight and walking two. She also went 4 for 4 at the plate with a double and four RBIs. Katelyn Hussing went 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - WEB GEM -- Tigard/Tualatin City right fielder Kendra Zuckerman hits the ground after making a spectacular diving catch of a foul ball in Thursday's Little League Softball World Series game.Tigard/Tualatin City's pool play game with the Southeast champion on Friday is set to start at 7 p.m. at Alpenrose Stadium.

“We don't have to wake up as early,” Carly Atwood said with a smile, referring to Thursday's 10 a.m. first pitch.

Central is slated to be back in action Friday when it faces the Europe-Africa champion, Prague, Czech Republic, in a pool play game starting at 12:30 p.m.

For more on this game, and Tigard/Tualatin City's other Little League Softball World Series games, see the Aug. 14 issue of the Tigard/Tualatin Times.

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