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Taking on the world

The East starts fast and uses that edge to beat Willow Creek Monday
by: Miles Vance ON THE BALL – Willow Creek’s Emma Williams connects in the first inning of her team’s Monday game against East champion New City Little League in the Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose.

PORTLAND - You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and the Willow Creek Majors all-stars learned a tough lesson on Monday about what happens when you don't.

Willow Creek, facing East champion New City Little League of New York, gave up nine runs in the first inning of its Monday pool play game at Alpenrose Dairy, and despite a spirited effort to come back, ended up on the wrong end of a 14-4 decision.

'I think we could have definitely beat that team, but it's just that we had a bad first inning,' said Willow Creek first baseman Madeline Jaekel, who went 1-for-2 at the plate and knocked in one run in the loss. 'You can't give up nine runs in the first inning.'

That was definitely true on Monday against New City, a team that entered the game - like Willow Creek - at 1-2. But New City survived two first-inning defensive errors, then took absolute control in the bottom of the first.

New City benefited from four first-inning walks and chased Willow Creek starter Isabella Carino from the game with a 2-0 lead and two runners on base. Things continued on that same track for reliever Sydney Rusin too. Rusin walked the first batter she faced, and New City's bats came alive after that, putting together five straight hits and six in the inning to pull away.

New City's Jayde Marks and Deana Prochnau drove in two runs each with singles, while Kerrin Powers, Reese Guevarra and Melanie Lerche all singled home runs in their big inning.

Still, Willow Creek was determined to respond, got its first run in the top of the second when Emma Gordon tripled to center field. Gordon then scored when Jenny Marnin grounded to short.

New City tacked on two more runs in its half of the second on an RBI single from Guevarra and a Willow Creek error, but Willow Creek battled back again in the third. Rusin got things started with a walk, Williams followed with a bunt single, and Maya Macey walked to load the bases. Jaekel stroked a hard single to center to plate Rusin, and Gordon singled to right field to knock in two more runs and cut their Willow Creek's deficit to 11-4.

'I think my teammates expect (me to hit),' Gordon said, 'so I just don't want to let them down.'

'It felt really nice to at least have someone score so you can get some runs on the board and feel like you helped your team,' Jaekel added.

Willow Creek hit into a double play to derail its scoring hopes in the fourth, however, and New City tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to end the game. Taylor Adolff hit a sacrifice fly for the first run, and Gianna Lia followed with a two-run single to center to end the game.

For the game, Gordon went 2-for-2, scored once and knocked in two, while Jaekel and Marnin both went 1-for-2 and drove in runs. Lerche led New City hitters, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Guevarra and Marks added two hits each in the win.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.