The Tualatin City girls enjoy the World Series experience

by: DAN BROOD - INTERNATIONAL  FLAVOR -- Tualatin City faced the Latin America championship team from Puerto Rico at the Little League Softball World Series. 
PORTLAND — It all began back in March.

Some of the players were from Tualatin, some from Newberg.

It all came to a close in August.

And those Tualatin and Newberg players, who came together to form a talented, hard-working cohesive softball squad, got to take on some of the best teams from around the country — and around the world.

It also turned out to be a summer they’ll likely never forget.

That’s because the Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team finished its 2013 summer season by playing in the Little League Softball World Series, which was held Aug. 8-14 at Alpenrose Stadium.

“It was really big and really different,” Tualatin City outfielder Savannah Braun said of the World Series. “It was a lot more than I expected. It was definitely better than I expected.”

“It was just crazy,” Tualatin City catcher Ella Hillier said. “It was really special to do this, especially in my last year playing Little League.”

“It was fun,” TC shortstop Camille Hall said. “It felt like just another tournament, but it was a big, huge deal.”

It sure was.

The Little League Softball World Series featured five regional champions from around the United States as well as teams representing Canada, Europe-Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

The Tualatin City team seemed to hold its own against the world-wide competition. TC went 2-2 in the pool play portion of the World Series, leaving the team as part of a three-way tie for second place in the Pool A standings.

The series tiebreaker format put Tualatin City in the seventh-place game, where it fell to the Asia-Pacific representative from Iloilo Province, Philippines.

“It was a fun experience,” Braun said. “And we showed we could win.”

The wins were nice, and they certainly were exciting, but, for the Tualatin City girls, there was more than just the victories that made World Series special.

“The best thing is the bonding between our team,” Hall said following last week’s seventh-place game. “The worst part is that now (the World Series) is over.”

“It was stressful,” Tualatin City first baseman Lindsay Stadick said of the World Series. “But it was a good experience with the team. It brought us closer.”

by: DAN BROOD - A DANCING GOOD TIME -- Tualatin City's Savannah Braun (right) is all smiles during a break at the Little League Softball World Series. “I’m going to miss these girls a lot,” Hillier said.

“We started back on March 1,” Tualatin City manager Joey Hall said. “And these girls became great friends. They also bought into doing their part for the whole of the team. It’s a great group.”

That great group, in addition to growing closer as a team, got to get to know the other World Series squads.

“We got to know the other teams,” TC outfielder CheyAnn Lang said.

“It was cool hearing them cheer,” Camille Hall said.

“It was fun becoming good friends with them,” Tualatin City outfielder Kendra Zuckerman said. “We became friends with the Philippines girls. We got to know some things about their culture.”

Tualatin City faced three foreign teams at the World Series.

Their first foreign opponent was Lombardia Little League, from Milano, Italy. TC got a 7-1 win over the Italians in a pool play game played Aug. 10. The biggest obstacle for Tualatin City in that game may have been the language barrier.

“I tried to listen to their first-base coach,” Stadick said after that game. “But I couldn’t understand him.”

“I was scared that they were talking bad about us,” Camille Hall added with a laugh.

Tualatin City also faced ASOFEM Little League from Maunabo, Puerto Rico. In that game, TC came back from a 5-1 deficit to get a 6-5 victory.

In the World Series seventh-place game, Tualatin City fell 6-0 to Iloilo Little League, from Iloilo Province, Philippines.

“It was cool hearing their cheers,” Hillier said.

“It was different playing them,” Braun said. “We couldn’t understand their cheers.”

And, there was the joy of just playing some softball.

“For me, one of the best things was being one of the girls that got a hit in our first two games,” Braun said.

Tualatin City had its share of standout moments during the World Series, such as Stadick’s high, deep triple in the win over Italy and Elizabeth Hillier’s 13-strikeout pitching performance in the victory over Puerto Rico.

For Joey Hall, finishing play at the Little League Softball World Series marked an end of an era — the end of his Little League coaching era.

“I’m done,” Hall said with a smile following Tualatin City’s final World Series contest.

Joey Hall has coached in Little League for the past 19 years — in the Tualatin City program and at Kenton Little League before that. Camille Hall is the youngest of his nine children.

“My wife said I have 19 years worth of yard work to catch up on,” Joey Hall said with a laugh.

Members of the Tualatin City Little League team include Savannah Braun, Maddie DeVerna, Kendra Gooding, Camille Hall, Elizabeth Hillier, Ella Hillier, CheyAnn Lang, Lilly Marshall, Noelle Sawyer, Lindsay Stadick, Samantha Teran and Kendra Zuckerman.

Joey Hall was the team’s manager with coaches Cyndy Hillier and Kevin Potter.

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