Little League softball: Rowan off to a 2-0 start in World Series

Published 6:39 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

By Mike London

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Rowan Little League’s 12U softball team romped 10-0 over Philippines in a four-inning World Series game on Monday afternoon.

“The girls from the Philippines flew 30 hours to get here, and they gave it all they had,” Rowan manager Steve Yang said. “Our girls were just bigger in stature and a lot more experienced.”

Cressley Patterson went 3-for-3 with two doubles and scored two runs. CJ Haines had two hits and two RBIs. LeNiyah Ratcliffe had two RBIs.

Remi Hagerty pitched three innings with five strikeouts, while Bristol Smith was in the circle for the fourth inning and struck out one.

On Sunday, Rowan had 10 hits and beat Ohio 5-0 behind Hagerty’s two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts. It was a close game until Rowan scored three runs in the sixth.

“We couldn’t get the timely hit early in the game and the Ohio pitcher had a good screwball, but we did swing the bats pretty well,” Yang said. “The rules now call for a continuous batting order (all 12 players are in the lineup), and we feel like we’ve 12 girls who are pretty balanced, with no easy outs in the lineup.”

No. 12 batter Tenley Shell,  Haines, Ratcliffe and Makynzie Melchor had two hits each. Melchor had a double.

Now Rowan faces quite a bit of down time before it plays its third game in the tournament — a very big one on Thursday afternoon, a Purple Bracket semifinal against Texas, the defending champions. Texas has beaten Pitt County, Rowan’s biggest rival in Little League softball, 6-1, and crushed Northern California 11-0 on Monday.

They are using bracket play instead of the standard pool play for this year’s World Series. That creates odd scheduling gaps.

There’s not much doubt Rowan landed in the tougher of the two brackets.

Yang asked about authorities about the unbalanced brackets and was told the teams were pulled out of hat, so it was just a random draw that put Rowan in the same bracket with Texas, Pitt County and Ohio.

Texas is the favorite to win the World Series. The Texas-Rowan game will be played on ESPN at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

“Well, they’re the defending World Series champs and they’ve got nine players back,” Yang said. “Watching them on TV when they were playing in Southwest Regional, I was thinking that everyone was coming to Greenville to play for second place, but seeing them play live here this week, I believe we’ve got a chance. Texas is very good, but no team is invincible. We know that from what we were able to accomplish in 2015 and 2019 (when Rowan won championships). We’ll have to play a clean game defensively, but Remi is pitching well, and our girls are loose and confident.”

Rowan will log a lot of practice time on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’ll have some good, long practices, and we’ll try to keep the girls entertained and having fun when they’re away from the field,” Yang said. “I’m not sure what there is to do in Greenville for such a long a period of time, but we’ll find activities for them. There’s talk about kayaking, but you can’t take chances with getting anyone hurt. Cooling off somewhere definitely would be nice. It feels like it’s 105 degrees and it’s humid.”

Yang said crowd support for the Ohio game on Sunday morning was outstanding. A lot of Rowan families and fans were able to make the drive.

There were fewer fans able to stick around for Monday’s easy win, but a big crowd is expected on Thursday, with thousands more tuning in to the televised game in Rowan County and Mooresville.

“The local softball fans in Greenville, most of them have been cheering for us, but I’m sure the families who have girls that play for the Pitt County team probably aren’t going to cheer for us,” Yang said with a laugh. “Pitt County is our rival all the way down to 8U. That rivalry intensifies every year.”

If Rowan wins against Texas, it will keep rolling.

If Rowan loses to Texas, Rowan is not out of the tournament. It will be a tough road, but Rowan will still have a chance to come back and win it all.

“We’ll do our best to win on Thursday,” Yang said. “If we don’t, we’ll get back out there and try to win our game on Friday.”

There are 12 teams in the World Series, eight from the United States,

In other scores on Sunday it was Puerto Rico 11, Canada 9; Connecticut 11, Italy 1; Texas 6, Pitt County 1.

As champs of the host region, Rowan is playing as “North Carolina,” while Pitt County is in the field as the Southeast Regional champ.

Monday’s other games are Puerto Rico vs. Oregon at 10 a.m.; Northern California vs. Texas at 4 p.m., and Connecticut vs. New York at 7 p.m.