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Slow start dooms Willow Creeks hopes in its Series opener

The local all-stars make nine errors and give up nine runs in the second
by: Miles Vance AT THE SERIES — Willow Creek pitcher Isabella Carino gets things going in her team’s Little League World Series opener against Wilkes County.

PORTLAND - The Willow Creek Majors all-stars knew they were in for a tough match-up in their Little League Softball World Series opener.

But they had no idea it would be this tough.

Willow Creek, facing Southeast champion Wilkes County Little League of North Carolina, kicked off the Series with a distinctive thud, committing nine errors and dropping a 13-1 decision at Alpenrose Dairy on Aug. 11.

Wilkes County was tough on everybody else too, however, going on to finish first in Pool B with a 4-0 record and advancing all the way to Tuesday's semifinals before finally falling to Southwest champion Waco Little League. Wilkes County went on to play in the Series' third-place game against Asia-Pacific, held yesterday (Wednesday) after the Valley Times' press deadline.

'We wanted to play our best and just put everything out there,' said Willow Creek second baseman Maya Macey, who went 1-for-2 at the plate and collected her team's lone hit against Wilkes County. 'Now we're just trying to put it behind us, forgetting it and just moving forward and doing the best we can do.'

'That was not us on the field,' added pitcher Isabella Carino, who allowed eight hits, two walks and just three earned runs. 'We play much better than that. We just need to play better 'D,' shake off the loss and get back on the field to play.'

Wilkes County scratched across one run in the bottom of the first inning, but it was in the second that things really came apart for Willow Creek. There, the District 4 champs gave up nine runs to fall behind 10-0, allowing four hits and, more painfully, committing nine errors - all on balls to their normally reliable infielders.

'I don't know what happened,' Macey said. 'It just kind of went downhill from there.'

'I was a little frustrated with the defense, but it is what it is,' Carino said.

Besides the Willow Creek errors - which led to eight unearned runs in that second inning - Wilkes County got an RBI single in the second from Gracey Curtis, an RBI groundout from Kailey McNeil, and a two-run hit to center by Emily Visnic to move in front 10-0.

Willow Creek pushed across its lone run in the top of the third when Sydney Rusin walked with one out, stole second, took third on Emma Williams' bunt, and scored when Macey singled down the third base line.

'I just wanted to get one on the board. That's all our team wanted was to start with one run and just work our way up,' Macey added.

For the game, Wilkes County pitchers Visnic and LarkAnn Parks allowed just one run on one hit and five walks while striking out four.

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