TC beats Willow Creek to open the District 4 event

by: DAN BROOD - GREAT CATCH -- Tualatin City's Maddie DeVerna (right) gets a hug from teammate Kendra Zuckerman after she made a clutch, running backhand snag of a line drive during Monday's District 4 tourney game. PORTLAND — It was intense.

It was interesting.

It was wild and it was a bit unnerving.

But, in the end, it turned out to be a Tualatin City victory.

The Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team, behind a furious sixth-inning rally, opened play at the District 4 Tournament by posting an 11-8 win over Willow Creek in a pool play contest played Monday at Alpenrose Stadium.

“That was intense,” said Tualatin City’s Elizabeth Hillier, who hit a two-run, tie-breaking single in the team’s five-run sixth inning.

“Intense and nerve-wracking,” added Maddie DeVerna, who hit a triple to go with a spectacular defensive play in the victory.

The tourney-opening win could be a crucial one for Tualatin City, as Willow Creek looks to be one of the team’s top competitors for the top spot.

“It was really important,” DeVerna said.

“If we win the next two, we’ll get the top seed for the semifinals,” Hillier said.

Tualatin City got off to a quick start in Monday’s tournament contest, getting a run in the top of the first inning.

Lily Marshall hit an infield single on the first pitch of the game to get things started for TC. Marshall stole second base, moved to third base on a passed ball and then she scored when Willow Creek couldn’t handle Camille Hall’s grounder, giving Tualatin City an early 1-0 lead.

Tualatin City added on another run in the second inning. Kendra Gooding and CheyAnn Lang drew back-to-back walks with one out in the frame. The both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Gooding then scored on another wild pitch, making the score 2-0.

Willow Creek came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. With runners on second and third with two outs, Veronica George belted a two-run double to tie the game at 2-2.

by: DAN BROOD - FIRE IT IN -- Tualatin City Little League pitcher Lily Marshall gets ready to throw a pitch during Monday's district tourney game. But Tualatin City answered back — in a big way — in the top of the third inning.

Ella Hillier, Hall and DeVerna had consecutive singles to open the frame, with Hillier scoring on DeVerna’s hit to give TC a 3-2 lead. One out later, Lindsay Stadick singled in both Hall and DeVerna to up the margin to 5-2.

But Willow Creek came back in the bottom of the inning. Taking advantage of six walks, Willow Creek scored three runs in the frame to tie the game at 5-5.

The damage actually could have been worse. With two outs and the bases loaded, DeVerna, playing at second base, sprinting to her right, made a reaching, backhanded snag of a line drive off the bat of Emily Hart to end the inning.

“I just thought ‘I’ve got to get this,’” DeVerna said of the catch.

DeVerna followed up her key defensive play by hitting a two-out, RBI triple in the top of the fourth inning, driving in Ella Hillier to give TC a 6-5 lead.

Willow Creek also scored a run in the fourth inning, tying the game, again, at 6-6.

Tualatin City wasn’t able to score in the top of the fifth inning. But, in the bottom of the frame, Willow Creek got a two-run inside-the-park home run by George.

That left Tualatin City facing an 8-6 deficit going into the top of the sixth, and final, inning.

“I was both nervous and confident,” DeVerna said of her feeling going into the sixth inning.

“I told the girls, ‘hey, I’m not stressing over it,’” Tualatin City manager Joey Hall said. “Two runs are nothing.”

Marshall reached base on an infield single to leadoff the top of the sixth inning. Camille Hall drew a one-out walk to put the tying runs on base. Marshall then scored when Willow Creek committed a throwing error following a grounder by DeVerna, cutting the lead to 8-7. Noelle Sawyer then drew a walk to load the bases.

Camille Hall would then scoring the tying run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Stadick. Gooding then drew a walk to load the bases with two outs and the game tied at 8-8.

by: DAN BROOD - A CLOUD OF DUST -- Tualatin City's Camille Hall (left) slides safely to third base as Willow Creek's Raegan Kirsop reaches for the ball in Monday's game at the District 4 Tournament.Elizabeth Hillier then delivered a two-run single to center field, driving in both DeVerna and Stadick to give Tualatin City a 10-8 lead.

“Joey said to go out and smack it,” Elizabeth Hillier said. “I was so scared. But, after I hit it, I was just so happy.”

Tualatin City got another run in the inning, when Samantha Teran singled in Gooding, giving TC an 11-8 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.

Willow Creek got a leadoff single by Annika McNeel, but Marshall, pitching for Tualatin City, retired the next three batters in order to wrap up the victory.

“That was really fun,” DeVerna said.

“I forgot how much fun Alpenrose is,” Elizabeth Hillier added.

Tualatin City, as a team, had 11 base hits in the win.

Marshall went 3 for 4 at the plate with a stolen base and two runs scored. DeVerna went 2 for 4 with a triple, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBIs. Ella Hillier, Camille Hall, Savannah Braun, Stadick, Elizabeth Hillier and Teran added one hit apiece.

Marshall, pitching five-and-a-third innings, gave up five runs (four earned) on three hits while striking out 10 and walking five.

On Tuesday, Tualatin City scored a 13-2 win over Southwest Portland in a pool play contest.

Ella Hillier ripped a two-run, inside-the-park home run to help give TC a 5-0 lead in the second inning of that game. DeVerna added a double in a six-run fourth inning.

Sawyer and Elizabeth Hillier each pitched for Tualatin City in the victory.

TC was scheduled to finish pool play Wednesday with a game against Forest Grove. Results of that game weren’t available when The Times went to press.

The District 4 Tournament semifinals are slated to be played today (Thursday) at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Alpenrose Stadium. On Friday, the tourney third-place game will be played at 5 p.m. and the championship game will follow at 7:30 p.m.

The tournament champion will represent District 4 at the Little League Softball World Series, which starts Aug. 8 at Alpenrose Stadium.

“We hope to win and go to the world series,” DeVerna said.

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