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The World Series was special for players, family and fans

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - SUPER SUPPORT -- Members of SouthLake Church show their support for the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League softball team, especially outfielder Carly Atwood. PORTLAND — The Little League Softball World Series.

Sure, every team playing there is aiming at the championship. Every team wants to be on ESPN.

But there sure seems to be more to the event, which concluded Aug. 13 at Alpenrose Stadium, than that.

There’s more for the players, coaches, family, friends and fans — just ask them.

“I’m never going to forget it,” Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors all-star team pitcher/outfielder Tia Cordts said following the team’s 9-1 loss to Canada in the World Series fifth-place game. “It was absolutely amazing. It was so cool. It was everything I thought it would be and more.”

“It was Tia’s dream to get here,” Tigard/Tualatin City manager Chris Cordts said. “And, as a father, it was a great feeling to help her realize that dream. I’m going to cherish this forever, because it doesn’t come easy.”

But, if you ask the Tigard/Tualatin City players, it was sure worth it.

“It was a great experience,” Tigard/TC’s Emily Harms said. “I’m so glad I got to play here.”

“This was so much fun,” Tigard/Tualatin City outfielder Carly Atwood said. “And we always try to have fun. If you’re not having fun, then why play?”

Well, the Tigard/Tualatin City team, also known as TNT, seemed to have plenty of fun at the Little League Softball World Series, going 2-3 and finishing in sixth place at the event, which included six teams from the United States and four foreign teams.

The Tigard/Tualatin City team got to play against three foreign teams at the series. The TNT girls got a 7-5 win over Prague, Czech Republic, they edged Puerto Rico 2-1 and they fell to the Canada champs, from Hamilton Little League in Victoria, British Columbia, in the Aug. 13 fifth-place game.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - PROUD DAD -- James Klum, father of Tigard/TC catcher Alexis Klum, cheers on the team. “You think that they’re different, but they’re not” TNT third baseman Brooke Clinton said of the teams from Prague and Puerto Rico. “It was really cool to listen to them.”

“We tried to listen to their cheers,” Nicole Box said.

“That was a lot of fun,” Alexis Klum added.

The Tigard/Tualatin City team also got to interact with other Little League Softball World Series squads at the hotel where the teams stayed.

“We got along well with the team from Louisiana,” TNT second baseman Logan Mentzer said.

“It was definitely fun,” Jennifer Redfern said. “All of the girls were so nice.”

“We were listening to how they say things,” Clinton said. “We were all saying ‘like, y’all.’”

“We got to bond with a lot of the other girls,” Tigard/TC shortstop Bella Valdes said.

There was more fun to be had for the TNT girls, who got to meet one of the sport’s best-known superstars.

“Meeting Jennie Finch was special,” Valdes said of the World Series appearance of the former collegiate All-American at the University of Arizona as well as being a star pitcher for the USA national softball team.

“Meeting Jennie Finch was the best thing,” Box said.

“It was fun to pitch against the foreign teams,” Tia Cordts said. “And meeting Jennie Finch.”

Meanwhile, as the Tigard/Tualatin City girls had fun on and off the field, they also had their sea of fans, clad in blue, cheering them on.

“This experience has been fantastic,” said James Klum, father of TNT catcher Alexis Klum. “This has been every parent’s dream. It’s been a real bonding experience for my wife (Jenni Klum) and daughter.”

Jenni Klum helped supervise the TNT girls.

“Yeah, she’s having to help take care of 13 girls,” James Klum said.

In the meantime, James Klum was watching every Little League Softball World Series game that he could.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - BEING LOUD -- Tigard/Tualatin City Little League fans cheer on the team during its win over Puerto Rico “This is what it’s all about,” he said. “Lexi has played since she was seven. And to see her finish Little League here is something you can never forget.”

It sure sounds like he won’t.

“My favorite thing so far has just been the ambiance of the day here,” James Klum said. “All of the smiles keep going. This is one of those memories that we’ll always cherish.”

Ella Hillier, who played on the Tualatin City Little League team that participated in the 2013 Little League Softball World Series, was a fan this year, watching her younger sister Elizabeth, who played for the Tigard/Tualatin City squad.

“I’m having fun out here,” Ella Hillier said. “It’s fun to watch them experience what we experienced last year.”

The elder Hillier sister still looks back fondly on last year’s World Series, when she was the catcher for the Tualatin City team while Elizabeth pitched for the squad.

“That was one of the best times of my life,” Ella Hillier said. “I’m glad they got to do it this year. But it’s weird being at the field here and not playing.”

Meanwhile, Atwood had her own strong cheering section, complete with signs for her and the team, in her friends from SouthLake Church.

“We’re here to watch Carly,” said Emily Johansen, a Sherwood High School senior-to-be and a sprint standout on the Lady Bowmen track and field team. “This is super fun for me.”

“I love this,” Madison Shaw added.

“This is real fun to watch,” Hannah Shaw said. “And we want to support Carly.”

Not everyone watching the Tigard/Tualatin City team had a connection to the squad.

Ron and Sharon Keller, who were at the TNT-Southeast game on Aug. 8, drove out to Alpenrose from Gresham to see some World Series Softball action.

“We saw it on the news,” Sharon Keller said. “Our grandson plays for Centennial. We’ve seen the boys play, so we wanted to see the girls.”

“I’ve always been impressed when I’ve seen this on TV,” Ron Keller said. “The speed and precision of the pitchers is very good.”

“Especially for girls,” Sharon Keller added. “It’s very impressive.”

For the TNT girls, who formed a team from two different cities, the World Series experience wrapped up a special summer.

“For me, the special thing was when we beat Willow Creek (3-0 in the District 4 tournament championship game played July 18 at Alpenrose),” Harms said. “After that, we knew we were going to the World Series.”

“The best thing for me was to end my season at the World Series,” TNT outfielder Kendra Zuckerman said.

Members of the Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors softball team playing at the World Series include Alexis Klum, Kendra Zuckerman, Tia Cordts, Bella Valdes, Elizabeth Hillier, Logan Mentzer, Carly Atwood, Brooke Clinton, Nicole Box, Leah Sandoz, Gillian Livingston, Emily Harms and Jennifer Redfern. Chris Cordts is the team’s manager, with coaches Frank Redfern and Derek Atwood.

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