Triangle wins regional opener

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MARANA, Ariz. — The Triangle All-Star juniors, representing Oregon, defeated Washington in the opening round of the Little League softball West Regionals near Tucson, Ariz. Thursday, 4-3.

Triangle now faces Hawaii today at 5 p.m. The tournament is a double elimination affair.

The Triangle squad hit the ground running, opening a 3-2 lead after two innings, but suffered a pair of uncharacteristic errors in the process.

Triangle manager Michael Lambert attributed the slips to first-game jitters and the intense, 102-degree heat and humidity in Arizona.

“I thought the girls handled the heat,” Lambert said. “That was the biggest concern we had in the tournament. They did really well keeping some fluids in and eating fruits during the game.

“We were a little concerned with their errors in the beginning of the game,” Lambert said, “but they really settled in and it was a good first win in the beginning of the tournament.”

Lambert cited second baseman Brook Smiley as one of the players that struggled early, but picked up here game as the day progressed.

“Brook Smiley had some really good plays at the end,” Lambert said. “She had a lot of balls hit her way. What was important was that early on, she was one of the first people that made an error, but she just got stronger and stronger as the game went on and made some plays that were critical.”

After letting a run go in the first, Triangle answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

After a base hit from Sidney Peal to lead the inning off, she advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored thanks to an RBI single from McKayla Peal. Jessica Lambert singled and Abi Biggs walked to load the bases for Smiley, who took a free pass to earn an RBI.

Triangle scored another run in the next inning on a single, a walk and an RBI single from Jessica Lambert.

Washington tied the game in the fourth on a run driven in by JoccLyn Lopez’s RBI single.

Triangle’s Jenny Field laid down a bunt on the third baseline in the bottom of the fifth to score Mati Keeney, who was pinch running for Abi Biggs, and win the game.

Jessica Lambert pitched the complete game for Triangle, and had eight strikeouts and three walks in the victory, while surrendering just four hits.

“She was consistent throughout the game,” coach Lambert said. “She kept the batters off balance. We had a lot of groundball outs which was great. She had good pitches and kept the ball in the infield behind her and allowed the defense to do what they needed to do.”

Colette Robert will get the start for Triangle against Hawaii tonight.

Oregon 4, Washington 3

Washington 110 100 0 — 3 4 0

Oregon 210 010 x — 4 5 2

Eldridge, Nordpeig (5) and Bentz; Lambert and Peal.

HR — none.

Hits — Washington: Nordpeig 2, Lopez, Nisbet; Oregon: Peal, Kralman, Kelly, Lambert 2.

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