Beaverton's pitchers allow just one earned run in 26 innings at state
by: DAN BROOD, WINDMILL — Beaverton Area Little League pitcher Rachel Thompson cranks it up against Pendleton.

PORTLAND - Pitching and defense win championships.

There's no question the Beaverton Area 9-10-year-old softball all-stars had plenty of both in their run to the state championship at Alpenrose Dairy.

Beaverton's pitchers allowed just one earned run in 26 innings over five games in the state tournament for an amazing ERA of 0.23. After three shutouts in four days, the team saved its best performance for its last game.

Much like a week earlier in the district championship game, Beaverton turned to ace pitcher Kiana Wood for the state title contest last Thursday. And again, Wood did not disappoint.

The hard-throwing lefthander tossed a one-hit shutout, striking out a whopping 15 batters (three less than the maximum for six innings). After walking the first two batters she faced, Wood was nearly untouchable. She struck out the next seven hitters before allowing a single to Keizer's Allison McGregor with one out in the third.

Wood ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts and went on to retire the final 11 batters she faced, including McGregor by strikeout in a 10-pitch battle for the first out of the sixth.

While Wood came through with another dominant pitching performance, it was Megan Wadsworth that again provided the offense. Wadsworth connected for her sixth home run in the state and district tournaments (11 games) in the top of the fourth inning for the game's only runs.

Katie Newton picked up Beaverton's first hit of the game when she doubled to right with one out. Wadsworth followed by homering deep to left field for a 2-0 lead that held up.

Those would be the only hits Beaverton got off Keizer starting pitcher Jordyn Hanson, who struck out eight batters and allowed just one more baserunner the rest of the way.

As an added bonus, Kayla Shearer, who broke her leg in Beaverton's third pool game, was in attendance to watch her team win the state title. McGregor presented Shearer with three mylar balloons during the pre-game introductions on behalf of the District 7 champions.

Beaverton earned its spot in the championship game with its third shutout in four games. The team beat last year's runner-up Pendleton 4-0 in Wednesday's semifinal game. Rachel Thompson allowed just two hits and got a slew of defensive gems behind her to keep Pendleton from ever threatening.

'Coach said it was going to be a hard game, so we had to play our best,' Thompson said. 'The defense was great. I knew they could do it.'

And Beaverton did, time and time again. The defense made play after play, including a trio of standout performances in the second inning. Second baseman Tricia Nystrom started it off by knocking down a hard one-hopper and firing to first for an out. Pendleton's next batter smacked a chopper between second and third that third baseman Wadsworth snared with an overhead stab to her left. Wadsworth's throw to first was low, but first baseman Cheyenne Mendenhall made a nice backhanded scoop for the second out. Catcher Katie Newton finished off the inning by flipping off her mask to make a catch of a high foul ball to the right of home plate.

Beaverton's defense protected the 2-0 lead it built in the bottom of the first inning. Thompson led off by drawing a four-pitch walk. Newton reached on a bunt single to pitcher with Thompson racing to third and Newton moving to second on indifference.

After a groundout, Newton got caught between second and third. Pendleton tried to get her at second, which allowed Thompson to alertly head home for the game's first run as Newton went to third.

Nystrom walked and immediately ran to second before Newton was tagged out after straying too far off third. Nystrom went to third and eventually scored on two passed balls for a 2-0 lead.

Beaverton added a run in the second. Courtney Coombs drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on an error. After fouling off three two-strike pitches, Newton grounded a ball off the second baseman's glove as Coombs scored to make it 3-0.

Pendleton put a runner on third in the third inning, but Thompson used some high heat to end the frame with her second straight strikeout. She finished with four in the game.

Nystrom drew a walk to lead off the third and moved to third on a pair of passed balls. Mendenhall drove her in with a hard grounder past the second baseman into right field for an RBI single and 4-0 lead.

That was more than enough support as Beaverton's defense continued to shut down Pendleton. Left fielder Ali Locke raced in to make a catch on the infield dirt for the first out of the fourth inning. Thompson followed by snaring a quick comebacker to the mound.

The defense stayed hot in the fifth with shortstop Wood corralling a hard liner for the first out. Wadsworth ended the frame by charging a bunt, barehanding the ball and firing to first where Mendenhall stretched out for the catch and stuck her foot on the bag for the final out.

Nystrom helped cap the shutout in the sixth when she backhanded a hard grounder up the middle and fired to first for the second out. She caught a pop fly to end the game.

Kate Allen, Bailey Wadsworth, Emily Barnes and Jazmine Payne also contributed toward Beaverton's title run.

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