Tualatin City edged in district final

Softball: TC's rally comes up just short as it falls in the District 4 title contest
by: DAN BROOD SHE’S SAFE — Tualatin City’s Camryn Robbins (left) slides safely to third base before Willow Creek’s Emma Gordon can get the ball in Friday’s district title game.

PORTLAND - They battled.

They rallied.

They kept their spirits high.

But, in the end, the girls on the Tualatin City Majors (ages 11-12) Little League softball team came up just short.

Tualatin City, despite its strong efforts, fell 9-5 to Willow Creek in the championship game of the District 4 tournament, held Friday at Alpenrose Stadium.

'It went really well until the end,' said Tualatin City's Camryn Robbins, who belted three doubles in Friday's title contest. 'We did good in the tournament. I thought we played really well.'

'They battled and battled,' Tualatin City manager Ken Caron said of the girls on his team. 'I couldn't be prouder.'

By winning the district title game, Willow Creek advances to play in the Little League Softball World Series, which starts Aug. 11 at Alpenrose.

Tualatin City, which got to the district title game by scoring a thrilling 3-2 win over Murrayhill in the semifinals the night before, went 3-3 in district tournament play.

'My daughter and the other girls play a lot of competitive softball,' Caron said. 'But nothing compares to the Alpenrose tournament. It's a very unique thing and it's special to be a part of it.'

Tualatin City, in Friday's district tourney final, took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first inning.

Larissa Tashchuk got things going by drawing a leadoff walk. She moved to second base on an infield single by Rachel Dixon and then scored when Robbins ripped a line-drive double to the fence in center field, giving Tualatin City an early 1-0 advantage.

Alexandria Herrera drew a two-out walk to load the bases for Tualatin City, but the team couldn't push any more runs across in the frame.

Willow Creek answered back with a pair of runs in its half of the first inning. Maya Macey hit a one-out single to right field. She stole second base, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a single by Madeline Jaekel to tie the game. Emily Preble, who drew a walk prior to Jaekel's hit, scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to give Willow Creek a 2-1 lead.

Willow Creek added two more runs in the second inning, one scoring on a sacrifice bunt by Emma Williams, to up its lead to 4-1.

Tualatin City cut the margin to 4-2 in the top of the third inning. Dixon walked to lead off the frame. She stole second and then scored when Robbins doubled to the fence in left-center field.

Willow Creek again answered back, scoring a pair of runs in its half of the inning to push its lead to 6-2.

But Tualatin City wasn't about to give up. In fact, TC came back in a big way in the top of the fourth inning.

Megan Woodward drew a walk to lead off the inning and Rachel Still followed with an infield single. Both runners then moved up on a wild pitch. Tashchuk then smacked a single to center field, driving in both Woodward and Still to make the score 6-4.

A fielder's choice grounder by Dixon and Robbins' third double of the contest put runners on second and third with one in the inning. One out later, Sammi Caron drew a walk to load the bases. Dixon then scored when Willow Creek committed an error on a hit by Herrera, cutting Willow Creek's lead to 6-5.

Willow Creek scored a pair of runs in its half of the fourth, with Macey and Jaekel both scoring on a two-out single by Isabella Carino, giving the team an 8-5 lead.

Willow Creek added on another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to up the lead to 9-5.

In the top of the sixth, in its last chance, Tualatin City kept battling.

Epic Gourde led off the inning with a single to right field. Herrera walked with one out in the inning and Woodward drew a two-out walk to load the bases and bring the potential tying run to the plate. But Willow Creek pitcher Sydney Rusin coaxed a groundout to end the threat and wrap up the victory for Willow Creek.

'We had a great rally. When Megan Woodward scored, that really raised the team's spirits,' Ken Caron said. 'It was a heartbreaker, but playing here in this game was special.'

Robbins led the hitting attack for TC in Friday's game. She went 3-for-4 at the plate with her three doubles. She also had two RBI and a stolen base.

'I've been practicing my hitting a lot,' she said. 'I just tried to get to the ball and drive it.'

Dixon, Grace Marshall, Still, Tashchuk and Gourde added one hit apiece for Tualatin City.

Robbins picked up the pitching win for Tualatin City in last Thursday's semifinal victory over Murrayhill. She struck out 10 batters in a complete-game performance.

'That was a dream for Camryn,' Ken Caron said.

Tualatin City wrapped up that win in dramatic fashion. Leading 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and with a Murrayhill runner on third, a TC pitch bounced to the backstop. Tashchuk, playing at catcher for Tualatin City, grabbed the loose ball and made a diving tag of the runner at the plate in time to get the third out and clinch the victory.

'The girls really celebrated that one,' Ken Caron said.

Kelsey Downing also played for the TC team at the tourney. Joey Hall and Craig Robbins were the team's coaches.