Little League Softball: Rowan stays undefeated at World Series

Published 11:02 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

By Mike London

Rowan’s softball team expected its toughest pool-play challenge in the 12U Little League World Series on Friday night — and got it — from Bear, Delaware, the East Region champ.

Rowan’s 4-1 win included escaping major jams in the top of the fourth and sixth innings. Rowan was out-hit, 8-4, at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Oregon, but found ways to pull it out.

“I don’t know if there’s enough medication for me in Oregon after that one,” exhausted Rowan manager Johnny Meadows joked. “Delaware has quite a team, an excellent team. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see them again when we get to bracket play. They’re the best team we’ve faced all year, but I guess we’re probably the best team they’ve faced.”

Rowan (3-0) has one pool game left and has all but  locked up first place in the pool.  Rowan’s last pool game will be on Sunday at noon against Czech Republic. The Czechs (1-1) are strong for an international team. They gave Delaware a tough game and prevailed against Utah on Friday.

“They’re no joke,” Meadows said.

Delaware won the toss and elected to be the visiting team.

Winning pitcher Madelyn VonCanon doubled home a run for Rowan in bottom of the first inning. It was 1-1 heading to the fourth.

The top of the fourth proved pivotal. Delaware loaded the bases with no outs. VonCanon got a strikeout for the first out.

With the infield in, Rowan shortstop Emma Clarke fielded a ground ball and threw home. Catcher Brooke Kennerly stretched for the throw, while keeping her foot on the plate, and got the force play for the second out.

A long drive to center field was run down by Rowan’s Bentli Meadows for the third out, and it was still 1-all.

“Getting out of that jam, that’s probably where we won this game,” Coach Meadows said. “That gave us a lot of momentum.”

Rowan scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth when pinch-hitter Cailynn Winford lifted a popup behind second base with runners at second and third. The second baseman gave way to the onrushing center fielder and the ball bounced off the center fielder’s glove. Both runners scored, and Rowan had the lead for good.

Kennerly drove in an insurance run in the fifth for a 4-1 lead.

“Mad Dog (that’s what Meadows calls VonCanon) was doing a great job all day of throwing strikes and pitching to contact,” Meadows said. “But then in the sixth, she ran out of gas.”

After the first two Delaware batters walked to start the sixth, Kendall Robinson relieved VonCanon and got the last three outs. Rowan made a critical play for a forceout at third on a bunt.

“We had great communication on that bunt,” Meadows said. “And Kendall had no fear. She’s come to the circle for us all  year in tough situations like that. She did the same thing in the state tournament against Wilmington and the regional tournament against Tennessee.”

VonCanon didn’t allow an earned run in five innings. She walked two and struck out two and won her second game of the tournament. Robinson has pitched in all three games. She had one strikeout and earned her first save of the tournament.

Rowan’s four hits were by Allie Burns, Robinson, VonCanon and Kenadi Sproul. Sproul had a double. Burns, Clarke, Robinson and Sproul scored runs.

Left fielder Ashlee Ennis threw out a runner trying to stretch a single.

“Our defense stepped up for us, and there weren’t a lot of boo-boos today,” Meadows said. “The biggest mistakes that Delaware made came running the bases. We made plays. We threw some people out.”

Off today, the Rowan team will be involved in helping with the Challenger Division games for players who face mental or physical challenges.

Delaware    010   000   — 1   8  3

Rowan LL   100   21x   — 4   4   3