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Willow Creek closes out its Series run

Willow Creek falls 10-3 in its finale and places 8th in the World Series
by: Miles Vance GOING ALL-OUT — Willow Creek shortstop Emma Gordon stretches to make a play during her team’s World Series finale against Westchester-Del Ray last week.

PORTLAND - Willow Creek's final game in the Little League Softball World Series was not a win, but the team's week-long experience competing against the world's best absolutely was.

The Willow Creek Majors all-stars, who earned their berth in the World Series by virtue of winning the District 4 championship, ended their run at the 2011 Series with a 10-3 loss to Westchester-Del Ray Little League of Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 17 at Alpenrose Dairy.

Despite that result, which left Willow Creek in eighth place with a 1-4 record, the local all-stars had nothing but positive emotions about their appearance.

'The funnest part was just playing these games with all the other teams,' said Willow Creek third baseman Jenny Marnin, who went 1-for-3 in the finale. 'They were really nice.'

'The thing I'm going to remember about the week most is the people I've met here, the different countries, the different places in the United States, and how much we wanted to try and win every game,' added Willow Creek left fielder Sam Lay, who went 1-for-3 against Westchester-Del Ray. 'Sometimes it doesn't work out, but we tried our hardest.'

Westchester-Del Ray pushed across one run in the first inning against Willow Creek, then added three more in the second and one in the third frame to lead 5-0. Highlights from that span included run-scoring singles by Gillian Miles, Sarah Robinson and Sara McMorrow in the third.

But Willow Creek battled back gamely in its half of the third inning, rallying for three runs and closing within 5-3. Emma Williams got things going when she singled to left field with one out, moved all the way to third on a Maya Macey groundout, then scored on a Chandler Dolan wild pitch with Emily Preble at bat.

Preble walked with two outs, Madeline Jaekel was hit by a pitch, and Makayla Davis walked to load the bases. Preble then scored on another wild pitch, and after reliever Annika Pearson walked Emma Gordon, Marnin singled to right to make it 5-3.

Willow Creek threatened again in the fourth and fifth innings, with Williams walking and advancing all the way to third before Isabel Carino lined out to end the fourth, and Jaekel singling to left before being doubled off on Davis' liner in the fifth.

Westchester-Del Ray kept the heat on down the stretch, however, adding one run in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the sixth to pull away. Simone Simon singled home one of her team's two runs in the fourth, and Andrea Guzman drove in another in the sixth.

'I think that they had hard-hit balls, but we can field those balls. We can get those,' said Williams, who finished 1-for-1 with one run scored and two walks. 'And if we did pull it together, we could have won.'

And while Willow Creek didn't win this one, the team's players left as winners after thoroughly enjoying their World Series experience.

'For us, it was our last chance to show something, so everybody had good hits today and that helped,' Marnin said.

'I'll take eighth-best team in the world any day,' Lay added. 'It's an exciting experience, and when I get home, I'm going to post it on Facebook.'

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