The Tualatin City squad gets prepared to play in the Little League Softball World Series

by: DAN BROOD - READY TO GO -- Members of the Tualatin City team that will be playing in the Little League Softball World series includes (top row, from left) Ella Hillier, Lindsay Stadick, Elizabeth Hillier, Noelle Sawyer, Camille Hall, CheyAnn Lang, Kendra Gooding, (bottom row) Maddie DeVerna, Savannah Braun, Lily Marshall, Kendra Zuckerman and Samantha Teran.TUALATIN — Some of the girls are excited. Really excited.

Some may be a little nervous.

One even said she’s a bit scared.

But they’re all smiling big and bright.

And they’re all ready to take on the best teams from all over the world.

The Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team, with the players on the squad bubbling in anticipation, is getting ready to take the big stage as it prepares to play in the Little League Softball World Series, which will be held Aug. 8-14 at Alpenrose Stadium, located at 6149 S.W. Shattuck Road in Portland.

“We’re super excited,” Tualatin City catcher Ella Hillier said during a team practice session held last week at Tualatin Community Park.

“It’s our only opportunity,” outfielder CheyAnn Lang added.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” TC pitcher Lily Marshall said.

Tualatin City earned that rare opportunity by beating Southwest Portland Little League 11-0, in four innings, in the District 4 tournament championship game, held July 19 at Alpenrose Stadium.

With that win, TC will represent District 4 in the Little League Softball World Series. The series will feature 10 teams — six from various regions of the United States, one from Canada, one from the Philippines, one from Italy and one from Puerto Rico.

The Tualatin City squad, which also includes players from Newberg Little League, will play in the opening game of the World Series, when it faces Central Region champion Elyria East Little League, from Elyria, Ohio, in a pool play game starting at 10 a.m. Aug. 8 at Alpenrose. Tualatin City will play at least four more games at the DAN BROOD - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT -- Tualatin City's Noelle Sawyer gets ready to field a grounder during the team's practice session held last week at Tualatin Community Park.

“I’m just excited for that,” TC third baseman Noelle Sawyer said.

“I’m scared,” said Tualatin City first baseman Lindsay Stadick, who was one of the hitting stars for the team in the District 4 title game, belting both a home run and a triple in the victory. “I was talking to my dad, and I was kind of freaking out. Some of the teams we play will be speaking different languages. But it’s going to be fun.”

And, the TC girls concur, that could be a big part of the merriment.

“We get to meet people from other countries,” shortstop Camille Hall said. “And we get to make new friendships.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Marshall added.

And, it’s an opportunity that, prior to this year, had seemingly slipped through Tualatin City’s hands over and over again.

Prior to this year’s district tourney win, Tualatin City had lost in the previous three District 4 title contests. The most heartbreaking of those loses came just a year ago, when TC fell 7-6 to Raleigh Hills/Lincoln. In that game, Tualatin City held a 6-1 lead going into the fifth inning of that game, only to give up six runs, all coming with two outs, in the frame.

Six girls from that Tualatin City team — Maddie DeVerna, Hall, Ella Hillier, Marshall, Sawyer and Stadick — are back on this year’s squad. And they say last year’s disheartening loss played a key factor in this year’s success.

“A lot of the girls were bummed,” Hall said. “But the younger girls on (last year’s) team said ‘hey, we have another shot.’ It was more motivation.”

“We were so close last year,” said TC outfielder/pitcher Elizabeth Hillier, who didn’t play on last year’s team, but was there every game, watching her older sister. “We really wanted it this year.”

“We all tried hard to stay calm this year,” Marshall said.

“It was all effort and attitude,” Hall said, referring to the team’s motto this summer.

“After last year, it made it more special this year,” Sawyer said.

“The first thing Noelle said to me at tryouts this year was that ‘last year has been eating at me for a year,’” Tualatin City manager Joey Hall said. “And she’s definitely been a stud on defense for us this year.”

by: DAN BROOD - STAYING STRONG -- Members of the Tualatin City softball team celebrate with catcher Ella Hillier after she threw out a runner on a stolen base attempt in the District 4 title game. So, what else — besides motivation, effort and attitude — has been behind the team’s success this year?

“We all connect in different ways,” Sawyer said.

“I think our team chemistry is better than last year,” Camille Hall said.

“We’re all sisters,” Elizabeth Hillier said. “We all love each other.”

And then there’s the mental aspect.

“The girls were very focused,” Joey Hall said. “They never got too high, or too low, and that really paid off. Four of the girls didn’t even know that the (District 4 title game) was over, they were so focused. I think a lot of that came from Camille and Ella. They were all over those kids.”

Now, that focused Tualatin City club is looking forward to its long-awaited World Series experience.

“It will be really cool,” Ella Hillier said.

And it’s not just the games that the TC team thinks will be “really cool.”

“We get to arrive at the field (from the team hotel) in a limo,” Marshall said with a big smile on her face.

“I want to hear what the teams from other countries cheer,” Elizabeth Hillier said.

And Tualatin City plans on doing plenty of cheering of its own.

“We need to come up with a new cheer for the World Series,” Camille Hall said.

But the team also is ready to compete with the best teams from around the world.

“I want to go far,” Ella Hillier said.

“We might as well make it to the end,” Marshall said.

What’s it going to take to do that?

“Effort and attitude,” Kendra Zuckerman said.

“We’re going to have to dive after every ball,” Sawyer said.

But, win or lose, the Tualatin City team says it’s going to make the most of its once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I just want to go far,” Sawyer said. “But I don’t care even if we lose every game — it’s going to be thrilling to be playing there.”

Tualatin City should have plenty of momentum on its side after an impressive performance at the District 4 Tournament. TC went 5-0 at the tourney, outscoring its opponents by a total margin of 60-10.

Camille Hall hit for a .692 batting average in the district tourney. Savannah Braun batted at a .667 clip, DeVerna hit for a .642 average and Ella Hiller hit for a .615 average. Marshall, the team’s leadoff batter, hit for a .471 average and she also turned in a complete-game shutout pitching performance in the district tournament title game.

Tualatin City, after playing in the Aug. 8 World Series opener, will next meet the yet-to-be-determined Southeast regional champion Aug. 9 in a pool play game starting at 4 p.m. On Aug. 10, Tualatin City will face Europe/Africa representative Lombardia Little League, from Milano, Italy, in a pool play game starting at 4 p.m. Tualatin City will wrap up its pool play schedule Aug. 11 when it faces Latin America representative ASOFEM Little League, from Maunabo, Puerto Rico at 10 a.m.

Tualatin City will have at least one more World Series game to play after that.

The World Series semifinal games will be played at 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 and they will be broadcast on ESPN2. The World Series championship game will be played at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14, and it also will be broadcast on ESPN2.

There is no admission fee to attend the World Series games.

Other members of the Tualatin City team include Kendra Gooding and Samantha Teran. Cyndy Hillier and Kevin Potter are coaches with the team.

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