South Williamsport’s World Series title hopes dashed in defeat to Oregon

PORTLAND — The South Williamsport all-stars saw their championship hopes come to an end Monday at the Little League Softball World Series after a 2-0 quarterfinal loss to host Oregon.

The teams found themselves locked into a defensive struggle, combining to retire 15 consecutive batters during one stretch.

“We played pretty solid defense and the pitchers were both throwing well,” South Williamsport manager Cory Goodman said. “Hitters weren’t able to square up on many balls today.”

Oregon cracked the code in the fourth inning when Bridgette Boling looped a lead-off single into left field. She moved into scoring position on teammate Sofia Cherry’s ground ball. Boling almost got herself caught in a hotbox after over running second base, but she was able to dive back to the bag safely.

She wouldn’t stay there long.

After a couple pitches, Boling broke for third base. A steal that seemed to catch South Williamsport by surprise. A missed connection at third base sent the ball rolling into foul territory and opened the door for Boling to score the game’s first run unchallenged.

South Williamsport pitcher Alizabeth Schuler prevented any further damage when she came out of the circle to make a lunging snag on a one-hopper at her knee, never breaking stride on her way to sending a soft toss to first base for the third out.

South Williamsport tried to get the run back in the fifth when Abby Lorson appeared to beat out an infield single on a bobbled ball at first base. But a video review showed that Oregon’s Sierra McKenna had regained control of the ball just in time to get the pivotal lead-off out.

Next up, Williamsport’s Gianna Goodman lifted a two-strike single into shallow center field to bring the Pennsylvania parents to their feet. But a high fly ball to Lucia Regnier in right field prevented Goodman from getting off first base.

Oregon notched an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Kaiya Suyama connected for a lead-off single. Two batters later, the top of the lineup came due and Addilyn Gates delivered an RBI-single to center field.

Schuler once again prevented any deeper damage by striking out the next batter and ending the inning by gloving a hopper in the circle.

South Williamsport was left with three outs to produce at least two runs.

A strikeout and a fly ball quickly knocked the East champs down to their final out.

The team stayed alive when Kendall Cardone drew a five-pitch walk. South Williamsport appeared on the verge of a last-ditch rally when Lynna Clark hammered a blast that passed just in front of the left fielder’s glove to put the tying run on base.

“I thought we had a chance to get two or three runs there with the hitters we had coming up,” Goodman said.

But confusion on the base paths proved costly when the team’s lead runner hit the brakes halfway to third base and retreated toward second. After retouching the bag, she tried to slide into third but Oregon’s throw came in plenty of time for Gaby Bauer to apply the tag that ended the game.

“She said that she thought she had missed second base,” Goodman said. “There are 17 other outs — that one play did not make or break the game.”

A video review confirmed that the tag was in time, sending the players through the post-game handshake line.

South Williamsport put two runners on base in the first inning with Schuler starting the game by drilling an off-speed pitch to center field for a single. But Oregon pitcher Boling ended the threat with a strikeout. She struck out 10 for the game.

“You have to score to win games, and we didn’t get the sticks going until the sixth,” Goodman said. “Their pitcher did a good job keeping the ball on the outside.”

South Williamsport is off tomorrow before returning to Alpenrose on Wednesday for a 3:30 p.m. consolation game against Mexico City.

“Now, it’s just about going out and having fun,” Goodman said. “These girls have worked hard all year. They will look back and be happy that they made it here — the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Oregon 2,

South Williamsport 0

South 000 000 — 0 4 1

Oregon 000 11x — 2 5 0

Alizabeth Schuler and Lily Reidy.

Bridgette Boling and Sofia Cherry.

Top South Williamsport hitters: Alizabeth Schuler 1-3; Lynna Clark 2-3 2B; Gianna Goodman 1-2.

Top Oregon hitters: Addilyn Gates 1-3 RBI; Bridgette Boling 2-3 run; Sofia Cherry 1-2; Kaiya Suyama 1-1; Sophia Groshong 0-1 run.

Records: South Williamsport (2-3); Oregon (3-2).

Next: South Williamsport vs. Mexico City (Wed., 3:30 p.m.)