SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Northern California’s streak came to an end at the hands of Pendleton’s 12U All-Stars softball team on Sunday.
The Pendleton Little League team took down its California opponents 4-1 in round one of the West Regional Tournament. It marked the first loss for the California program, who went undefeated until it met Pendleton.
“I think Northern California could have won the Oregon state title, had we not been there,” Pendleton head coach Scott Wilson said. “They’re that good. They’re probably going to come all the way up through the losers bracket. We might see them in the (West Regional) championships.”
The All-Stars would go on to take down Arizona on Tuesday in a 11-4 second-round contest.
Pendleton held the lead from the second inning onward of game one. Josie Jenness’ sacrifice fly to center field drove in Madaline Schumacher to put the All-Stars on the board, and Melanie Boatman’s ground ball drove in another RBI in the following inning for a 2-0 advantage.
“The girls came out and really hit the ball well,” Wilson said. “Our defense was spot-on, too.”
The All-Stars knocked down a triple play in the bottom of the third to keep Northern California scoreless. Avery Krigbaum snagged a fly ball at center field, then threw it in to Nessa Neveau at third base, who threw it to second to complete the play.
“That really took the wind out of (Northern California’s) sails,” Wilson said. “They didn’t have any retaliation after that.”
Boatman scored on Schumacher’s single in the top of the fifth, and with the bases loaded, Lilli Brooks drew a walk, pushing Neveau home. Northern California would not score until the bottom of the sixth.
Schumacher went 2-for-3 at bat, and Neveau 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead Pendleton.
Schumacher would flaunt her batting strength again on Tuesday, opening the game against Arizona with a triple in the top of the first, scoring on the throw.
The All-Stars put up four runs in the second inning, capped off by Lea Wilson’s RBI-single. Arizona remained without a run until the bottom of the third.
Arizona fought back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to bring the score to 6-4, but Pendleton withstood the rally as Krigbaum, Schumacher, Boatman, Wilson, and Neveau all contributed to a five-run response.
Pendleton will have to win out its next three games for a shot at the championships, which will be held on Friday at Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino.
“This group is so special,” Wilson said of his team. “They are confident, both in themselves and each other. I’ve seen other teams come down here and crumble, but this group belongs together.”