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Murrayhill blazes at regionals

There was just no stopping Murrayhill at the Western Regional tilt
by: JIM KENCK, TEAMMATES — Murrayhill’s Sarah Atkins (right) gives Katherine Casey a pep talk during their team’s championship game against Alaska in the Western Regionals in Tucson, Ariz., last week.

TUCSON, Ariz. - Murrayhill.

It must mean 'juggernaut' in some other language, because that's just what the Murrayhill Little League Juniors softball team was at last week's 10-team Western Regional Tournament.

Murrayhill won four straight games to secure a spot in last week's Aug. 9 semifinal, then took out Southern California 10-5 to grab a berth in the tournament championship.

Murrayhill just kept rolling in the Aug. 9 final, too, taking out Alaska 9-2 to win the tournament title and earn a berth in this week's World Series.

Championship

Murrayhill 9, Alaska 2

Murrayhill started fast against Alaska, forcing home one run in the top of the first when Nicole Stanford was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and another on Sarah Atkins' single.

But Alaska started strong, too, pouncing on Murrayhill starter Sarah Atkins with a big triple and forcing an early change to Shelby VandeBergh.

Alaska 'really came out ready to beat us in the final,' said Murrayhill manager Nancy Atkins, whose team previously won District 4 and Oregon championships.

Murrayhill took control in the top of the fourth, though, pushing across five runs to grab a commanding 7-2 lead.

'It was a good inning,' Nancy Atkins said. 'We kind of took the wind out of their sails.'

In that inning, Chelsea Lambert singled one run home, Kirsten Fahlbusch forced home another with a bases-loaded walk and Stanford was hit again with the bases full. Lambert then scored on a passed ball and Sarah Atkins added another RBI hit to make it 7-2.

Anna Johnson and Lambert added run-scoring hits in the seventh inning for the final 9-2 margin.

'I had a feeling about that (fourth) inning,' Nancy Atkins said. 'And then after that, we played great defense.'

And that set the stage for a memorable celebration of their newly secured World Series berth.

'We tried to keep it down because the Alaska girls were so disappointed, but we were so happy,' Nancy Atkins said. 'Especially with the World Series almost right in our back yard.

'It's such an honor just to make it to the World Series.'

Semifinal

Murrayhill 10, So. Cal 5

Murrayhill opened its semifinal matchup with its foot squarely on the accelerator, blasting out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looking back en route to its 10-5 victory.

In that first inning, Lambert singled and scored on a Fahlbusch triple to get things going, and Fahlbusch came home on a grounder by Stanford to make it 2-0.

Pinch runner Abby Komin scored on a Kristen Kenck grounder, Sarah Atkins made it 4-0 on a Johnson bunt and Christine Staley capped the rally with an RBI double.

Southern California closed within 6-2 after the third inning, but Murrayhill added two runs in the bottom of the fourth to boost its advantage to 8-2, getting an RBI triple from Fahlbusch and its second run on a passed ball.

The team also includes right fielders Nicki Cronauer and Katherine Casey, and coaches Ken Lambert and Lorin Johnson.