The Tigard/Tualatin City Little League softball team wins district and earns World Series bid

by: DAN BROOD - HERE WE GO -- Tigard/Tualatin City pitcher Elizabeth Hillier puts her arms in the air as the team nears victory at the District 4 tournament.PORTLAND — Clutch, powerful pitching.

Stellar defensive play.

Aggressive, fearless abandon on the base paths.

And, of course, attitude and effort.

Put it all together, throw in an abundance of loud cheering, and you’ve got a team that is bound for the World Series.

The Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team, behind its strong all-around play, reigned supreme in District 4 tournament play.

And, because of that, the Tigard/TC team now gets to take on the world.

The Tigard/Tualatin City squad, known as “TNT,” earned an automatic bid to the Little League Softball World Series by scoring a 3-0 win over Willow Creek in the District 4 Tournament title game played Friday in front of a large, loud crowd at Alpenrose Stadium.

“This is wonderful,” Tigard/TC’s Logan Mentzer said during the team’s victory celebration. “I can’t believe we’re going to be playing in the World Series. I’ve seen it on TV.”

by: DAN BROOD - NICE CATCH -- Tigard/Tualatin City catcher Alexis Klum makes a running snag of a foul ball for an out during the District 4 Tournament title game.“I couldn’t play with any better girls,” Tigard/TC shortstop Bella Valdes said. “This is going to be the experience of a lifetime.”

“It was attitude and effort,” Leah Sandoz said, emphasizing the team’s motto. “Those are the only things that we can control.”

With its 3-0 victory over Willow Creek on Friday, the Tigard/TC team wrapped up a perfect 6-0 showing in the District 4 tournament, in addition to clinching the World Series bid as the District 4 representative.

“I’m speechless,” Tigard/TC manager Chris Cordts said. “I’m just really proud of how the girls played and how hard they worked for this. They earned it.”

They certainly had to against a determined Willow Creek team.

Tigard/TC’s Elizabeth Hillier and Willow Creek’s Grace Kimball locked up in a pitcher’s duel early in the district title contest.

Tigard/TC was able to push a run across the plate in the top of the second inning. Tia Cordts led off the frame with a double down the left-field line. She moved to third base on a passed ball and then scored on a wild pitch to give Tigard/TC a 1-0 lead.

Willow Creek threatened in a big way in the bottom of the third inning, loading the bases with one out in the frame. But Hillier struck out both Nevaeh Bergner and Kendra Knapp to get out of the inning unscathed.

It was Tigard/TC’s turn to threaten in the top of the fourth inning. The team got an infield single by Tia Cordts and consecutive bunt singles by Kendra Zuckerman and Brooke Clinton to load the bases with one out. But Kimball recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning and keep the Tigard/TC lead at 1-0.

Things stayed interesting in the bottom of the fourth, as Willow Creek got a double by Kendra Hutchinson and an infield singly by Kimball to lead off the inning.

“I was getting butterflies,” Carly Atwood said. “But we were under pressure the whole game, we were used to it.”

And, again, Hillier came through under pressure. She got pair of strikeouts for the first two outs of the frame and then she coaxed a groundout to Jennifer Redfern at first base to again get out of a jam unscathed.

by: DAN BROOD - SHE'S SAFE -- Tigard/Tualatin City's Tia Cordts (right) scores on a wild pitch while Willow Creek's Grace Kimball looks to make a play in the second inning of Friday's district title game.Tigard/TC then got some breathing room in the top of the fifth inning, scoring twice in the frame.

Atwood got things started by drawing a two-out walk. Atwood then moved all the way to third base when Willow Creek committed an error on a hard ground ball hit by Alexis Klum.

Atwood then scored on a passed ball to up the lead to 2-0. Soon after, Klum scored from third on a wild pitch to give Tigard/TC a 3-0 margin.

Tigard/Tualatin City kept the pressure on in the top of the sixth inning, as Nicole Box drew a two-out walk, but the team wasn’t able to score again, setting up some late dramatics, as the TNT squad had to survive another Willow Creek threat before it was able to celebrate.

Following a more-than 15-minute delay prior to the start of the bottom of the sixth inning, Willow Creek’s Isabel Chapman and Hutchinson drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame.

Tia Cordts came into pitch in relief for Tigard/TC at that point and she came up big — real big.

The left-hander struck out all three Willow Creek batters she faced to wrap up the 3-0 win, and the team’s berth to the World Series.

Cordts’ third strikeout of the inning ended the game and ignited Tigard/TC’s celebration.

by: DAN BROOD - FUNDAMENTALS -- Tigard/Tualatin City's Brooke Clinton puts down a bunt single during the fourth inning of Friday's District 4 championship game. The Tigard/TC won to earn a World Series berth. “I couldn’t believe it,” Redfern said of her emotions following the final out of the game. “I’m still in shock.”

“I never felt so happy,” Clinton said.

“Going again is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Hillier, who was part of the Tualatin City team who played in the 2013 Little League Softball World Series. “I’m so happy. This means a lot.”

“It’s a lot of fun playing with this team,” Tia Cordts said. “I want to thank everyone on the team for how much hard work they did.”

“This is very exciting,” Gillian Livingston said. “I’ve always wanted to play in the World Series.”

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Tigard/TC catcher Alexis Klum said. “We stayed positive. I’m so glad we made it.”

“I couldn’t imagine doing this on a different team,” Emily Harms said. “We play so well together. We all give 180 percent.”

Hillier, pitching the first five-plus innings of the contest for Tigard/Tualatin City, gave up no runs on three hits while striking out nine and walking three while getting the win. Tia Cordts struck out all three batters she face to record the save.

“I’m so proud of both pitchers,” Clinton said. “And I’m proud of the entire team. We couldn’t have done this without everyone on the team.”

Tigard/Tualatin City, as a team, had four base hits in the contest. Tia Cordts went 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and a run scored. Zuckerman, who also will be playing in the World Series for the second straight year, and Clinton added one hit apiece.

by: DAN BROOD - THE CHAMPS -- Tigard/Tualatin City players and coaches pose with the championship banner following their district tourney title win over Willow Creek.The Tigard/Tualatin City team will open the 2014 Little League Softball World Series Aug. 7 when it plays the Central regional champion at 10 a.m. at Alpenrose Stadium.

Frank Redfern and Derek Atwood are coaches for the Tigard/Tualatin City team.

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