Series starts now for Willow Creek

The local Little League Majors all-stars open the 2011 World Series at 5 p.m. today at Alpenrose
by: Miles Vance PRACTICE MAKES — Willow Creek’s Sydney Rusin makes a throw during her team’s practice on Friday at Sunset High School.

PORTLAND - Less than one month ago, the Willow Creek Majors all-stars were just one of five teams hoping to win the District 4 softball tournament.

Now, Willow Creek is ready to take on the world.

Willow Creek, the District 4 champion, opens the Little League Softball World Series at 5 p.m. today (Thursday) with a game against Wilkes County Little League of North Carolina, the Southeast champion, at Alpenrose.

Willow Creek will continue its Series experience with three more pool play games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, followed by tournament semifinals on Tuesday and placing games (including the Series championship) on Wednesday.

For their part, Willow Creek's players - culled from just two teams in its league - are eagerly anticipating the upcoming Series.

'I'm just looking forward to meeting all the players and having a great time,' said shortstop Emma Gordon. 'There's teams from Italy, Puerto Rico and other countries - my plan is to make friends with all of them.'

'It's nervous and exciting,' said third baseman/outfielder/pitcher Makayla Davis. 'Since we only had to go through one tournament (to qualify for the World Series), we don't know how good these other teams are, but we're hoping for the best.'

Willow Creek has already shown resiliency, however, rallying to win the historically tough District 4 tournament after going just 2-2 in pool play, and its players believe they're ready to compete again at Alpenrose.

'I think, since we're really strong on defense, outfield and hitting, that we could probably win the World Series,' said right fielder/pitcher Sydney Rusin. 'I'm actually pretty excited - I'm not nervous at all.'

'I think we're going to do pretty well,' Gordon added. 'There are teams that had to go through many tournaments to get there and we got the easy route, but I think we're going to do pretty well.'

Besides those three players, Willow Creek is led by pitcher Isabella Carino (she also plays right field), catcher Emily Preble and first baseman Madeline Jaekel, and also features Maya Macey at second base, and Sam Lay at third. Jenny Marnin starts in left field, leadoff hitter Emma Williams is in center, and Maddie Raleigh plays first base and outfield.

Now, the team just needs to calm its nerves, settle into the Series routine, and show the world what it's capable of doing.

'Depending on how our defense and offense are, I think we'll go pretty far,' Davis said. 'But (our parents) are just really proud we made it.'

'With the whole world, it's nerve-wracking,' Gordon said. 'I'm just really excited and nervous. It's an honor, and it's kind of a small world.'

In its other Series pool play games, Willow Creek faces Muntinlupa City Little League of the Philippines (the Asia-Pacific champ) at 8 p.m. Friday, meets Lombardia Little League of Milano, Italy (the EMEA winner) at 10 a.m. Saturday, and New City Little League of New York (the East champion) at 8 p.m. Monday.

World Series semifinals are set for 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and placing games for 9 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, with the third-place game due at noon, and the tournament championship at 4 p.m. Wednesday.