The Beaverton Area squad advances to the state tourney with its 3-2 victory
by: Dan Brood, THE CHAMPS — The Beaverton Area Little League softball team of 9-10 year-olds celebrates its district title.

PORTLAND - A week of offensive bursts ended with a pitcher's duel for the Beaverton Area All-Stars in the District 4 Little League softball tournament at Alpenrose Stadium.

And what a duel it was.

Beaverton's Kiana (Kiki) Wood and Tigard's Shayna Curtis combined to strike out 25 batters in the six-inning game, which Beaverton held on to win 3-2 on Saturday to earn the title and advance to the state tournament.

'It was a great game all the way through,' Beaverton manager Clem Wood said. 'There are a lot of friends on both teams. It makes it a lot of fun. They enjoy each other's company outside of the games.'

But once they hit the field, both teams were all business throughout, none more then Wood and Curtis, who each allowed just three hits in their dominating complete-game efforts.

Beaverton got all three of its runs in the first inning from its 1-2-3 hitters. Rachel Thompson reached on an error to start the bottom of the inning. Katie Newton followed by reaching on a perfect bunt down the third-base line for an infield single.

Catcher Megan Wadsworth provided all of Beaverton's offense when she drove a home run over the right fielder's head, hustling around the bases for a 3-0 lead.

Curtis was nearly untouchable the rest of the way, recording 14 of Beaverton's 15 outs via strikeout. Curtis plays with many of the players she opposed Saturday on most weekends with the ASA Beaverton Blaze.

Wood was equally dominant, striking out 11 batters in her complete-game performance. She allowed a run in the third inning, but got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout. Tigard made it 3-1 when Hannah Bailey lined a stand-up double into the right-center field gap to score Alexis Carter from second. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases before Wood escaped further damage by firing some high heat for the strikeout.

Tigard leadoff hitter Carter, who also plays for the Blaze, started a rally in the fifth inning by drawing a walk. She went to second on a wild pitch and scored easily when Bailey poked a single into left.

Bailey had three hits in the game, including a two-out triple that she drove over the right fielder's head in the first.

'Tigard really put out a great effort and came to play,' coach Wood said. 'For both teams to have five runs, that's pretty uncommon at this level. For 10-year-olds, both pitchers throw pretty hard.'

Wood and Curtis, both flame-throwing lefthanders, are the No. 1 and 2 pitchers for the Blaze. Curtis effectively mixed in a drop ball to keep batters guessing throughout the game.

Wood seemed to have a little extra juice on her pitches in the final inning, and struck out the first two batters in the sixth.

'She was throwing really hard,' catcher Wadsworth said. 'Harder than any other inning.'

Tigard's final batter fouled off four straight two-strike pitches before Wood induced a pop-up to third baseman Newton that set off a celebration.

'I didn't think we were ready to win it (before the tournament), but we were,' Wadsworth said.

Coach Wood said Wadsworth and his daughter, Kiana, were both role players on the Beaverton team that won the district title last season.

'They were both able to step up this year and become leaders on this team,' he said.

Beaverton went 4-0 in pool play, winning by an average of more than nine runs. They defeated Murray Hill 15-0 on Saturday, July 1, then beat Sun Creek 14-1 on Sunday and Tualatin City 9-5 on Monday. After taking the Fourth of July off, Beaverton dropped Tigard 7-2 in their final pool-play game.

Beaverton, the No. 1 seed, advanced to the title game by beating Sun Creek 17-5 in Friday's semifinals. Beaverton begins pool play in the state tournament Sunday at Alpenrose with a 12:15 p.m. game against the District 8 champion. The team also plays at 12:30 p.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday. Semifinals are set for 5 and 5:15 p.m. Wednesday with the title game at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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