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Willow Creek breaks through

The local all-stars race past the EMEA team for their first win at the 2011 World Series
by: Miles Vance GOOD TIMES – Willow Creek catcher Emily Preble (center) leads teammates Emma Gordon (left) and Maddie Raleigh off the field after their team’s Sunday victory over Lombardia Little League.

PORTLAND - This one felt good.

After opening the Little League Softball World Series with two straight losses, Willow Creek's Majors all-stars were ready to win, and they did just that on Saturday night.

Facing Lombardia Little League of Milano, Italy - the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) champ - in its third pool play game, Willow Creek just flat got it done.

Tied with EMEA at 0-0 through three innings, Willow Creek broke through for one run in the fourth inning, then added five runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to win 8-0 at Alpenrose Dairy.

'With our teamwork, everyone just pulled through and I'm so proud of that,' said Willow Creek shortstop Emma Gordon, who stole a base, threw out two runners and made four putouts. 'We just feel like we've come a long way and we're just pushing that (first) game aside.'

'It's nice to win. It feels really good,' added Willow Creek second baseman Maya Macey, who went 2-for-3, knocked in two runs and scored once. 'Everyone just kind of plugged in.'

Willow Creek put two baserunners aboard in both the first and third innings, but came away empty until the fourth. There, Emily Preble led off with a single to right field, moved up to third on wild pitches by Lombardia pitcher Valentina Grazzi, and scored when Isabella Carino grounded to first to make it 1-0.

Willow Creek - which got a one-hit, four-strikeout shutout from Carino - then pushed across five runs in the fifth to take control. Sam Lay got things started with a walk, pinch runner Sydney Rusin stole second and then scored when Lombardia threw the ball away on Makayla Davis' bunt.

Davis advanced on two wild pitches, then scored to make it 3-0 when Emma Williams singled to center. Macey reached base on a fielder's choice, Preble singled to make it 4-0, Madeline Jaekel knocked in a run with a hit off the pitcher's glove, and Carino brought home the inning's final run on a groundout.

'It was nice to finally pull ourselves together like that,' Gordon said. 'We just needed something like that to get us hyped up.'

Macey added a two-run single up the middle in the sixth that plated both Lay and Williams for the final 8-0 margin.

'I just wanted to help get runs on the board,' Macey said. 'We don't take anyone for granted. We always work hard.'

For the game, Williams went 3-for-3 with one RBI and two runs, and Preble was 3-for-4 and scored twice. Sara Zambelan had Lombardia's lone hit, a single, with one out in the fourth, but was thrown out by Preble on an attempted steal.

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