Tigard/Tualatin City storms the tourney
PORTLAND — They weren't going to give up.
They weren't about to put their heads down and just move on to the next game.
They were determined.
They had something to prove.
And they weren't about to let something like a 4-0 deficit — or a talented opponent — get in their way.
The girls on the Tigard/Tualatin City Majors (ages 11-12) Little League softball all-star team turned all of their determination into an impressive victory.
The Tigard/TC squad, also known as the Fusion, dug out of that 4-0 hole to post a 6-5 win over South Beaverton in a District 4 pool play showdown played Tuesday at Alpenrose Stadium.
"This is pretty big," said Camille Schmitz, who was the winning pitcher in Tuesday's game. "We wanted to beat them all season, and we accomplished our goal."
"Everyone thought South Beaverton would beat us," said Makenna Reid, who struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning to earn the save. "We had something to prove. We wanted to prove that we can beat them."
With the victory, Tigard/Tualatin City improved to 2-0 in tournament pool play at that point, while South Beaverton fell to 1-1. Later on Tuesday, South Beaverton scored a 15-4 pool play win over Tillamook. With that victory, it is all set that Tigard/Tualatin City and South Beaverton will meet in Friday's district tournament championship game, which is set to start at 6 p.m. at Alpenrose Stadium. The winner of that game will move on to play in the Little League Softball World Series.
"Now, we want to go on and play in the World Series," Reid said.
South Beaverton, in Tuesday's game, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, with Ashley Goodale scoring on a double by Amanda Peterson.
The Fusion tried to answer back in the bottom of the frame, getting a leadoff single by Ava Carroll, but the Tigard/TC team couldn't capitalize.
South Beaverton added on to its lead in the top of the third inning, scoring three times to up its lead to 4-0. Hailey Stutzman had the big hit of the frame with a two-run triple.
But, it was at that time that Tigard/Tualatin City's determination kicked into high gear.
"Coach (Steven) Dardis said 'you can make a comeback,'" Fusion outfielder Hannah Wilken said. "We started trying harder."
Going into bottom of the fourth inning, still trailing 4-0, Tigard/Tualatin City started its rally.
Ava Jensen ignited the rally with a leadoff infield single. Two outs later, Schmitz drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Peyton Howard followed with a single to center field, driving in Jensen to cut the lead to 4-1.
Kani Korok then doubled down the left-field line, plating Schmitz to make the score 4-2. Carroll kept things rolling for the Fusion with a single to right field, driving in Howard.
Olivia Poulivaati capped off the big inning with an infield single, which brought home Korok, tying the game at 4-4.
South Beaverton, getting an RBI single by Lizzy Bradford, quickly regained the lead, at 5-4, in the top of the fifth inning.
But Tigard/Tualatin City wouldn't be denied.
Jazmyn Jenkins, leading off the bottom of the fifth inning for the Fusion, doubled to deep center field. Wilken, next up, doubled to deep left field, driving in Jenkins to tie the game at 5-5.
"I didn't watch it at all," Wilken said with a smile. "It felt good coming off the bat."
Two outs later, and after Schmitz drew a walk, and with Wilken on third, after advancing on a passed ball, Korok came up with a clutch infield single. Wilken scored on the hit, giving Tigard/Tualatin City its first lead of the game, at 6-5.
The left-handed Reid took over the pitching duties in the top of the sixth inning. She struck out three of the four batters she faced to wrap up the 6-5 victory for the Fusion.
"We came out a little flat," Dardis said. "But the girls didn't give in. They fought to the very last pitch. This was good. It's nice to show them that we'll fight until the very end."
"That was pretty fun," Reid said with a smile.
Schmitz, pitching the first five innings for Tigard/TC, gave up five runs on 10 hits, while striking out five and walking two.
"I started kind of slow," she said. "But I picked it up. That felt good."
Reid struck out three, and walked one, in her one inning of work in the circle.
"I've been pitching badly," she said. "So getting those strikeouts were really big. That's a huge confidence-booster for me."
Tigard/Tualatin City, as a team, had 10 hits in the victory. Korok helped lead the way, going 2 for 3 at the plate, with a double, a run scored and two RBIs. Carroll went 2 for 4, with an RBI.
Wilken doubled, drove in a run and scored a run. Poulivaati went 1 for 2, with an RBI. Jenkins went 1 for 2, with a double and a run scored. Jensen went 1 for 1 with a run scored. Schmitz went 1 for 1, with two walks and a run scored. Howard went 1 for 2, with a run scored and an RBI.
The Fusion was scheduled to face Tillamook and South Beaverton in a pool-play doubleheader on Wednesday. Results of those games weren't available when the Times went to press.
Other members of the Tigard/Tualatin City team include Talia Valdez, Ema Dardis, Taylor Hadden and Ashley Salstrom. The team's coaches are Howard Hoyle and Emily Barry.