Little League Softball: Rowan, 3-0 in World Series, clinches first place in pool
By Mike London
PORTLAND, Ore. — Kynlee Dextraze went 3-for-3 for the second straight day, and Rowan Little League’s 12U softball all-stars stayed undefeated in the World Series with a 7-1 victory on Saturday evening.
Rowan (3-0 in the World Series, 13-0 overall) topped the host team, Portland’s Willow Creek Little League, to wrap up first place in its pool, but not without some anxious moments early in the contest.
“It was 7-1, but that’s a deceptive score,” Rowan manager Steve Yang said. “We didn’t play our best today and we didn’t have great offense today, but Oregon had a lot to do with that. That’s the best host team we’ve ever seen out here. They were well-coached and had solid pitching.”
Oregon had two runners on base with one out in the third and fourth innings, but couldn’t score.
Rowan pitcher Campbell Schaen threw another complete game, striking out five and walking one. She allowed six hits, three to Bridgette Boling.
“I don’t remember her ever allowing six hits,” Yang said. “But she was still good, holding a strong team to one run.”
With Rowan already assured of the No. 1 seed from its pool, the plan is for Schaen to get some rest tonight when Rowan plays Canada at 7 p.m. EST to wrap up pool play.
Carmen Freeze and Arabelle Shulenberger are likely to get some time in the circle for Rowan.
“We should be able to compete with any of our pitchers, and Campbell will still get her at-bats,” Yang said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword, because we want to rest Campbell, but that doesn’t mean we want to lose a game and break our momentum. If we need her to finish Sunday’s game, she’d be OK to do that, but the most important thing now is to have her rested for Monday and ready to finish the tournament strong.”
Rowan already knows it will be in the 4 p.m. (EST) game in Monday’s quarterfinals against the No. 4 seed from the other pool. That game will be televised on ESPN2. The semifinals are Tuesday, while the championship game is Wednesday.
Rowan was the visiting team on Saturday. A base-running mistake kept Rowan off the scoreboard in the top of the first.
Ashley Yang’s single up the middle plated Dextraze for a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
“That was a proud-dad moment for me,” Coach Yang said. “That was a big hit for Ashley, the first one she’s squared up in a while.”
Oregon tied the game in the bottom of the second with an unearned run.
Rowan’s decisive, three-run third that included run-scoring singles by Lauren Vanderpool and Kassidy Sechler and a run-scoring triple by Riley Haggas made it 4-1.
In the bottom of the third, Oregon had runners on the corners with one out when Rowan third baseman Cadence Lane snagged a line drive and turned it into a double play.
“That was a game-changing play, probably the key moment in the game,” Coach Yang said. “If that ball goes down the line, they’ve got two runs, and it’s 4-3.”
Schaen pitched out of another jam in the bottom of the fourth to maintain the 4-1 lead.
Rowan made it 5-1 in the fifth when Dextraze singled, advanced on a single by Freeze and scored on a passed ball.
Rowan tacked on its last two runs in the sixth on run-scoring hits by Schaen and Dextraze.
Yang said Dextraze, a young shortstop who is a rising seventh-grader at Corriher-Lipe Middle School, is an exciting player. She’s on a 6-for-6 spree.
“She’s been really hot with the bat,” Yang said. “She’s hit some balls in the gaps and she’s had some seeing-eye singles, as well. Everything she’s hit the last two days has found a hole.”
While Schaen, Dextraze and Vanderpool have been leaders, Rowan has gotten a contribution from everyone on the roster.
“When we substitute it’s not because we’re just trying to get someone in the game,” Yang said. “We’ve got subs that we put in a game because they’re our best option in that situation.”
While Rowan has ruled its pool, Yang has been impressed with some of the teams from the other pool that Rowan will probably encounter next week, especially Hawaii and Mexico.
“The balance in this tournament is very good, with a lot of strong teams in both pools,” he said. “We do like the position we’re in right now, but we also know we have to play better. We can’t get overconfident just because we’ve been winning by a pretty large margin. Our games with Louisiana and Oregon were a lot more competitive than the score indicates.”
Rowan 013 012 — 7 11 1
Oregon 010 000 — 1 6 1
W — Schaen. L — Evyn Morriss.
Leading hitters — Rowan: Dextraze 3-for-3, RBI; Vanderpool 2-for-3, RBI; Schaen 2-for-4, RBI; Yang 1-for-1, RBI; Freeze 1-for-1. Oregon: Boling 3-for-3; Addilynn Gates 2-for-3.