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Willow Creek pushes Asia-Pac to the limit

Willow Creek ties Asia-Pacific at 2-2 after four innings before falling 7-2
by: Miles Vance HIT IT — Willow Creek’s Emily Preble slides into second base with a steal during her team’s 7-2 loss to Asia-Pacific in Friday night action at the Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose Dairy.

PORTLAND - The Willow Creek Majors all-stars did not find victory in their second-round pool play game at the Little League Softball World Series on Friday night.

But they did put together a memorable performance and proved to themselves - and to the rest of the tournament field - that they were ready to compete with the world's best.

Willow Creek, the District 4 champion, fell to Muntinlupa Little League by a 7-2 margin at Alpenrose Dairy, but were tied with the Asia-Pacific champs at 2-2 until the game's latter innings.

'I'm proud of our girls stepping up and making the plays I know we can do, and overall, playing a good game,' said Willow Creek catcher Emily Preble, who had two assists and gunned down one Asia-Pacific baserunner on an attempted steal. 'We wanted to show all the people what Oregon was all about and that we really could play softball and play it hard.'

'After last night, I don't think anyone wanted that to happen again, and I think we really stepped up as a team and pulled it together,' added center fielder Emma Williams, who went 1-for-3 and stole a base in the loss. 'Our first goal was to do our best and go all the way to the top.'

Asia-Pacific started fast with a two-run first inning, getting a two-out double to right by Ma Regina Uytiepo, a RBI double to center from Jill San Juan, and its second run on a Willow Creek error.

Willow Creek's offense, after striking out six times in the first three innings, finally came to life in the fourth. There, Madeline Jaekel singled to right-center field with one out, Isabella Carino singled to left, and Emma Gordon followed with a RBI double to center.

Carino was thrown out at home on Gordon's double, but Gordon advanced to third on the play, then scored on a wild pitch with Maddie Raleigh at the plate to tie the score at 2-2.

Willow Creek's good fortune would not last, though. Asia-Pacific answered with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, then added two more in the fifth to pull away and win. Asia-Pacific got two hits and took advantage of two Willow Creek errors to score three unearned runs in the fourth, then added a run-scoring single from Lucia Lorenzo and an RBI groundout by Monica Martinez in the fifth.

As disappointed as they were with the loss, Willow Creek's players knew there were still goals left to accomplish at the World Series.

'Since we lost two in pool play, we're not going to make it to the semifinals, so our new goal is to … play for the highest place we can get,' Williams said. 'We have a new goal in our mind, it's reachable and we're ready to go.'

For the game, Gordon went 2-for-3, scored once and knocked in one, while Jaekel went 1-for-3 and scored once. Pitcher Sydney Rusin allowed three earned runs on nine hits and four walks while striking out three.

For Asia-Pacific, Lorenzo went 3-for-3, scored twice and knocked in one, while San Juan and Alisha Vergara had two hits each in the win. Uytiepo allowed one earned run on five hits and one walk while striking out eight.

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