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Crook County juniors advanced to the Oregon state tournament, which begins Friday, July 15, at Bowlby Park in Redmond.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Little League graphic file photoFor one Crook County Little League team, the path to the World Series continues this weekend.

After winning the District 5 title on June 26, the Crook County junior league softball team advanced to the Oregon state tournament, which begins Friday, July 15, at Bowlby Park in Redmond.

"This junior team is out for the goal they wanted to reach as 8-to-10-year-old girls in the Minors Division," said Shae Cox, who is the Director of Softball for Crook County Little League. "Call it fate or whatever you want, but everything has aligned itself for these girls to go and give it their all this time!"

"It will be the last year they will play as little leaguers together," Cox added, "as many will be moving onto high school ball next season."

With the event so close to home, the Crook County team easily has the shortest drive of any team in the field. However, prior to the district tournament, the location of the state tournament was still unknown.

Only after they booked their ticket did the Cowgirls find out where they would be going.

"During the award ceremony, it was announced to us that Redmond would be hosting this year's tournament," noted Cox. "Not only did they get their spot at state, but it was also going to be local, which is just icing on the cake!

The Crook County team is managed by Tiffany Fewell, with John Riley and Tony Luna as assistant coaches. The roster consists of 12 players, including Lindsey Adkins, Jolene Bartolotti, Gretchen Fewell, Kylie Halverson, Kelcie Kensinger, Greyson Kline, Mattalyn Kline, Claire Leseman, Adyson Luna, Aleya Pagan, Moriah Riley and Ellee Schippert.

Crook County plays District 7 champion Corvallis in the opening game of the five-team, double-elimination tournament, with first pitch coming at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. The winner will advance to play District 2 champs Clackamas later that day in a 4 p.m. game. Between those two contests, District 3 winner La Grande takes on Klamath Falls, the top dogs in District 6, at 2 p.m.

The two winners of the Friday afternoon games will go toe-to-toe on Saturday, July 16, at 11:30 a.m., with the victor booking a spot in Sunday's championship round. The consolation bracket games will also be played on Saturday, with a single one-loss team advancing to the final.

The championship round will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 17. If the undefeated team wins the game, they will be crowned champions and will advance to regionals. However, if the one-loss team wins the 11:30 game, then a second contest will be played at 2 p.m. to decide who goes to the regional tournament, which will be held July 22-28 in Tucson, Arizona.

"They are ready to go all the way to regionals in Arizona and really show Central Oregon and Oregon what a great group of athletes they are," said Cox.

The winner of the West Region tournament will then advance to the Junior League Softball World Series. Ten teams from all over the country — and the world — will convene in Kirkland, Washington, from July 31 to Aug. 6 in hopes of being crowned as world champions.

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