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Tigard comes so very close

Beaverton Area holds on, just barely, to get the 3-2 victory in the District 4 championship contest
by: DAN BROOD, THROWING HEAT — Tigard’s Shayna Curtis struck out 14 batters in five innings pitched in the District 4 ages 9-10 Little League softball title game.

PORTLAND - An amazing game.

An overwhelming pitching performance. A pair of big-time clutch hits. An overall outstanding tournament.

The only thing the Tigard Little League all-star softball team of 9-10 year-olds was missing was the title.

And the team came oh so close to getting that as well.

Tigard concluded play at the District 4 tournament with a nail-biting 3-2 loss to Beaverton Area Little League in the tourney championship game played Saturday at Alpenrose Dairy.

'That was an amazing game,' Tigard manager Avery Carter said. 'You couldn't ask for more in a title game. The girls had a lot of drive and determination. They really wanted it.'

Beaverton, with the district championship, advances to the Little League 9-10 state tournament, which begins this weekend at Alpenrose Dairy.

Tigard, in its district tourney stay, came back strong after losing its first tournament game 11-1 to Tualatin City.

'Not to take anything away from Tualatin, but we didn't show up for that first game,' Carter said. 'It was an eye-opener.'

Tigard took off after that, winning three of its next four games, including a 7-2 win over Tualatin City in a tourney semifinal game last Thursday.

'We had a lot of fun at the tournament,' said Tigard's Hannah Bailey, who drove in both of the team's runs in the title game in addition to going 12-for-16 at the plate for the tournament. 'I'm really, really happy I played all-stars this year.'

Beaverton seemed to take control early in Saturday's championship game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning before an out was recorded.

Beaverton's Rachelle Thompson reached base on an error to start the inning. Katie Newton followed with a bunt single. Megan Wadsworth then came through with the big hit of the game with a three-run home run to right field, giving Beaverton a 3-0 lead.

After the home run, Tigard pitcher Shayna Curtis struck out the side to keep Beaverton from scoring again - as well as setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Tigard was able to cut into the lead, getting a run in the top of the third inning. Alexis Carter got things started with a one-out infield single. One out later, Bailey ripped a double to center field, driving in Carter to cut the lead to 3-1.

Emilee Cincotta followed with a walk and Brandee Hannahs was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

But Kiana Wood, Beaverton's pitcher, got out of the jam with a strikeout.

Tigard got even closer, scoring another run in the top of the fifth inning. Alexis Carter led off the frame by drawing a walk.

She moved to second on a wild pitch. Bailey then came through with another big hit as she singled to left field, driving in Carter to trim the margin to 3-2.

'I'm starting to feel more comfortable in the box,' Bailey said. 'This year, I've improved a lot. It's because of a lot of hard work and practice.'

In the top of the sixth inning, Wood put Tigard down in order to wrap up the win, but not without a close call. Laura Stephens, Tigard's leadoff hitter in the frame, hit a long fly ball to left, but it landed just barely in foul territory.

'That was a heart-breaker,' Avery Carter said. 'It was a great game. Someone has to win and someone has to lose.'

Curtis turned in an outstanding pitching performance for Tigard in the contest.

In five innings of work she gave up just three hits while striking out 14 and walking five.

'She had a really great game,' Bailey said.

Tigard had four hits in the title contest. Bailey had three of those hits - a single, a double and a two-out, first-inning triple - and Alexis Carter had the other hit.

In the semifinal win over Tualatin City last Thursday, Stephens picked up the pitching victory, recording four strikeouts.

Tigard, behind a single by Carter, a double by Curtis, a double by Bailey and a single by Stephens, scored three times in the top of the first inning.

Things stayed quiet for Tigard until the fifth inning when Carter led off the frame with a triple, followed by an RBI single by Curtis.

Bailey then singled, as did Cincotta, who drove in Curtis. Hannahs got on with a single and Bailey was hit in by a sacrifice fly by Stephens.

Tigard had a flawless defensive performance, making 2 double plays. On offense, Tigard had eight hits.

Bailey finished the tournament with 12 hits in 16 at-bats. She had two triples, six doubles, four singles and 21 RBI.

Other members of the Tigard team include Audrey Abblitt, Brienna Bedard, Shelby Sanders, Anna Warren and Shelley Ramirez. Reba Bailey was a coach with the team.