MARANA, Ariz. — Alaska, the team that stood in the way of Oregon Triangle’s first trip to the Junior Little League World Series last year, is there again.
Triangle survived a West Coast Regional loser-out softball game here Tuesday by defeating Northern California’s representative 10-8. But the Oregonians, who represent the communities of Milton-Freewater, Athena, Weston, Adams and Helix, will need to defeat the Alaskans today and again in a hoped-for rematch Thursday to earn a ticket to Kirkland, Wash., and this year’s World Series for the 13-14 age division.
Alaska eliminated Triangle in last year’s championship finals, and they knocked Oregon into the losers’ bracket on Monday with a 7-0 victory.
“They’re a tough, tough team,” Triangle manager Michael Lambert said of Alaska. “It’s going to take our complete defense to work, and our bats have got to stay alive.”
Alaska pitcher Lauren Syrup fired a no-hitter at Triangle on Monday, and she’ll be eligible to pitch in tonight’s game that is scheduled to begin at 6.
“That was not typical of our team,” Lambert said of the no-hitter. “Any time a pitcher throws a no-hitter at you, you have to give her credit. But she was not overpowering.”
Triangle certainly had its hitting shoes on Tuesday as it pounded out 14 hits against Northern California.
“We were beginning to wonder where our batting was the last two games,” Lambert said. “But we came alive last night, and that just gets us excited for tonight’s game.”
Colette Robert and Brooke Kralman led the Triangle assault with nine hits between them. Robert stroked five singles, drove in four runs and scored once. Kralman pounded out a double and three singles, drove in one run and scored three times.
Jessica Lambert and Ali Schroeder contributed run-scoring doubles, and Schroeder also scored three times. Abi Biggs added an RBI single.
Robert started in the circle for Triangle and yielded to Mackayla Kelly in the fourth inning after the Oregonians had built a 6-1 lead. But when Northern California battled back with two runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth, Roberts took over again in the sixth and finished up.
That means Triangle’s No. 1 pitcher won’t be eligible to pitch in tonight’s game. Lambert, the team’s No. 2 pitcher, will draw the assignment, and if she and her teammates can force a second game on Thursday, Robert will once again be eligible.
“Colette pitched in the championship game against Alaska last year that we lost,” the manager noted. “And Jessica pitched the game we lost to Alaska on Monday.
Oregon 10, Northern California 8
Oregon 310 230 1 — 10 14 4
Nor. California 010 232 0 — 8 7 3
Robert, Kelly (4), Robert (6) and Peal; Holt and Decker.
Hits — Oregon Triangle: Kralman 4, Robert 5, Lambert, Kelly, Biggs, Smiley, Schroeder; Northern California: Clark, Villanueva 2, Conlon, Holt 2, Soria.