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Stilly Dream Team thumps Oregon in first round of Regionals
Aggressive play key to Stillys 10-0 rout of Team Oregon
VANCOUVER Playing against Team Oregon in their first match of Regionals on July 29, the Stilly Valley Dream Team, now Team Washington, obliterated their opponents 10-0.
Watching the warm-ups from both sides, it was apparent that Stilly had seen tougher competition to emerge from the Washington playoffs than they would against Team Oregon. The game, held at Fort Vancouver Field in Vancouver, Wash., looked to be in safe hands from the beginning.
Arianna Barrio opened the game by drawing a walk for the Dream Team. In her at-bat she took the unusual decision to switch sides of the plate, mid at-bat. After going from swinging left-handed to right-handed, Barrio coaxed a walk and began to wreak havoc from the base paths. That aggressiveness on the field would be a constant theme all afternoon as Washington simply out-hustled Team Oregon.
As Barrio faked several stolen base attempts, the Team Oregon catcher seemed panicked. Barrio finally did try to steal and was gunned down at second base, but the tone was set for the days events. Anna Whitehouse walked on four pitches as the second batter in the game. Veronica Ladines then grounded hard to the second baseman who went to second for the force out on Whitehouse. Lynsey Amundson drew a walk and then executed a flawless double steal with Ladines, both runners advancing into scoring position. Kristina Flick walked to load the bases and Alexis Blakey took a pitch to the rib cage to force in a run. Alexa Chase also got nailed with a pitch and Washington led 2-0 without the benefit of a single base hit.
It could have been more runs for Team Washington had Anna Larsons two-out blast not ricocheted off the pitchers foot directly to the Oregon shortstop. Larson was robbed of at least two RBI on the play.
Still, leading 2-0 going into the bottom half of the first inning, all signs pointed to victory for Washington. Veronica Ladines entered the pitching circle for the visitors and got some good defensive help behind her in the inning. Oregons leadoff hitter stroked a looping liner into the gap between second and shortstop. An alert Kristin Backstrom made a running catch for the first Oregon out. Ladines struck out the second and third Oregon hitters on some serious high heat, quickly ending the inning.
In the second, Backstrom picked up at the plate where she left off in the field. She blooped a shallow single over the pitchers head to start Stillys inning. Barrio laid down a well executed sacrifice to put Backstrom on second. Whitehouse again walked on four pitches before Ladines sent a two run double way over the left fielders head. Ladines motored around second base trying to reach third on the play but was thrown out by the Oregon relay. Still, Team Washington led 4-0 and werent even finished for the inning.
Lynsey Amundson sniped a solid single to right field and Kristina Flick singled down the third base line. The Oregon third baseman made a diving stop on Flicks hit but could not recover in time to get an out on the play. Alexis Blakey then came through with a dipping line drive that eluded the Oregon left fielder and rolled all the way to the fence. Blakey steamed around the bases with a stand up triple as both Amundson and Flick scored. A Kaylee Aune ground ball ended the inning, but not before Team Washington led 6-0.
Coach Jim Barrio chose to rest his pitching staff judiciously, bringing in catcher Amundson to replace Ladines in the second inning. Amundson gave up a solid single to start the inning and then proceeded to mystify the Oregon hitters. Amundson threw some pitches so hard that it was an achievement for the Oregon batters to simply foul them off. She struck out the next three hitters she faced to close the door on the second inning.
On offense in the third inning, Stilly could not generate any further runs. Allison Hammond and Hannah Baird struck out to start the inning, Barrio walked and then Whitehouse hit a routine ground ball for the third out.
Fortunately for Team Washington, Amundson could not be touched by the Oregon batters. She struck out her fourth consecutive hitter to start the bottom half of the inning. New catcher Ladines actually needed medical attention on her wrist from the speed of Amundsons pitches. After Ladines shook off the injury Amundson struck out the next two batters as well, bringing her two inning total to six.
In the top half of the fourth inning, Team Washington added to its lead. Amundson singled up the gut to get the inning started. Flick then clocked a huge double into left-centerfield. Blakey beat a pitch into the ground down the third base line. Oregons third baseman stopped it and fired to first ahead of Blakey. Unfortunately, the throw was mishandled by the Oregon first baseman and both Amundson and Flick scored on the play.
Leading 8-0, Machyas Gilbertson got aboard thanks to an error and moved Blakey to third base. A quick stolen base by Gilbertson put two runners on in scoring position. Then a wild pitch scored Blakey and moved Gilbertson to third base before a walk to Backstrom. Backstrom took a chance on her walk by rounding first base and heading to second, a legal play that drew a throw from the Oregon catcher. Gilbertson streaked home as the throw into second base was bobbled. Gilbertsons run made the score 10-0 with Backstrom safe at second base.
No further damage occurred as Whitehouse grounded out to end the inning, but Team Washington produced the necessary ten run differential to end the game early. They needed only to hold Oregon scoreless in the fourth inning to do it and Coach Barrio brought in his third pitcher, Kristin Backstrom for the job.
Backstrom got a quick ground out to start things off in the fourth for Oregon before ceding a walk. The runner advanced on an error to catcher Amundson attempting to pick her off first. Backstrom settled back in on the mound and got a pop fly to centerfield for out number two. Then a bloop single fell over the head of the second baseman to put runners on the corners. Backstrom was not deterred and a tapper back to the mound ended the game.
Afterward Coach Jim Barrio liked his teams first performance at the Regional.
After todays game I see us going 4-0 or 3-1 in round robin play. I havent seen Team Idaho yet, but Ive seen everybody else that well play against and we stack up well against them. Obviously the California teams will be the toughest, but we wont face them until the semi-finals, at the earliest, Barrio said.
California, being the largest state from the West Region, has two teams playing in the tourney, Northern and Southern California. Those teams will square off against Nevada, Arizona and Utah first before playing anybody from the Northwest Region. Washington still must face Alaska, Montana and Idaho before the semi-finals.
After day one, it was clear that Team Washington had an excellent chance to advance to the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore.
I wasnt too nervous, said four RBI girl Alexis Blakey Wed seen the teams practice last night and a couple of days ago. I dont think any of them are as good as we are.
Team Washington will play Monday, July 30 and Tuesday, July 31 which both come after deadline for the Arlington Times. Scores and highlights will be reported in the Aug. 8 edition.