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Little League Softball: Rowan wins quarterfinal matchup

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — Rowan Little League’s lead-off batter Lauren Vanderpool was in a bit of a slump, so she took extra batting practice before the rest of the team arrived at the park.

That work paid off.

With two strikes on her, Vanderpool stroked an inside-the-park home run to begin Monday’s game at Alpenrose Field in electrifying fashion. She got Rowan’s 12U softball all-stars started toward a 4-0 victory over Iowa in a World Series quarterfinal.

“Lauren was thinking back side and went with an outside pitch and hit it hard,” Rowan manager Steve Yang said. “And once it was by the right fielder, with Lauren’s speed, that’s an inside-the-park homer. It was a great start for us, got rid of some of the nerves.”

Rowan left-hander Campbell Schaen, who rested Sunday as Rowan cruised past Canada, pitched a two-hitter, struck out 12 and didn’t walk a batter. She threw 57 of her 83 pitches for strikes and fired a first-pitch strike to 13 of the 20 batters she faced.

“Campbell was fantastic, amazing, I don’t know how else to say it,” Yang said. “She pitched our first three games here, so we rested her Sunday. The hope was that she’d come back strong and she did. Her fresh energy today was obvious. She was rolling right through them.”

The Iowa team was representing Central Iowa Little League in Polk City, a small town near Des Moines.

Iowa’s only two baserunners came on clean, back-to-back singles up the middle with two outs in the fifth. The runners made it as far as second and third, but Schaen got a strikeout to end the threat.

“Iowa is a good team,” Yang said. “They weren’t a typical No. 4 seed coming out of their pool because they actually tied for second (with Pennsylvania and Mexico) with a 2-2 record. They just came out on the short end on the tiebreakers. We knew it would be a tough game for a 1 vs. 4.”

Rowan, 15-0 for the summer and 5-0 in World Series play, only had five hits and left two runners stranded in the first and second innings.

Rowan scored twice in the third to take a 3-0 lead. Schaen walked, Riley Haggas reached on an error, and Kynlee Dextraze walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Cadence Lane walked to force home a run, and Emma Rae Cline’s groundout to the right side made it 3-0.

“We had some good at-bats that inning,” Yang said. “Their pitcher was having some trouble hitting her spots, and we were patient.”

In the fourth, Rowan added its final run after Lexie Ritchie singled and pinch-runner Kennedi Fisher stole second. Vanderpool’s groundout advanced Fisher to third. Schaen, who also swings the bat well, singled her home.

Next for Rowan is a Tuesday semifinal on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. EST. Rowan will face the same Oregon team it beat 7-1 on Saturday in pool play. Oregon, the host team for the World Series, was the No. 3 seed out of Rowan’s pool, but it beat Pennsylvania, a No. 2 seed, 2-0 on Monday. Oregon managed six hits against Schaen on Saturday and she only struck out five. Oregon has an outstanding pitcher of its own in Bridgette Boling, who is also the team’s best hitter. Boling had three hits against Schaen on Saturday.

“Oregon has a really tough ace pitcher who is left-handed and probably has just as much speed as Campbell,” Yang said. “I don’t think she has as much movement as Campbell does, but it’s going to be a battle between two really good left-handers, something you don’t see at this age very often.”

•••

NOTES: Part of the World Series experience is getting to know other teams, particularly those representing foreign countries. Yang said the Rowan girls and coaches have become great friends with the Italian and Canadian clubs who stay in the same hotel. You may see Rowan folks wearing Canadian or Italian team shirts on TV in support of those teams … Adidas, the German apparel and footwear company that has its North American headquarters in Portland and produces the uniforms and gear used in the regionals and Little League World Series, now sponsors a game room/play room for the Little League softball teams. It’s like the one the Little League boys enjoy in Williamsport, Pa. “That playroom has been a tremendous addition this year and has promoted a lot of great interaction between girls on different teams,” Yang said.

 

Rowan     102   100   —  4   5   1

Iowa        000    000  —  0   2   1

W — Schaen. L — Ava Husak.

HR — Rowan: Vanderpool.

Leading hitters — Rowan: Schaen 1-for-1, RBI; Kassidy Sechler 1-for-1; Ritchie 1-for-2; Avrelle Harrell 1-for-2; Vanderpool 1-for-3, RBI.

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