VANCOUVER, Wash. -The story-book season for the Pendleton 11-12-year-old softball all-stars added a must-read chapter Saturday, after earning a berth in the Little League Softball West Regional championship game.
Pendleton (4-1 Regional) exploded offensively in two separate innings for a 9-3 victory over Billings, Mont. and will face Kirkland, Wash. (4-1) at 2 p.m. today. The winner advances to the Little League Softball World Series Aug. 12-19 held at Alpenrose Field in Portland.
"This is amazing," Pendleton manager Debbie Alger said. "I really think we can beat Washington, if we play like we're capable of playing."
Washington knocked off Northern California 7-5 in the other semifinal contest Saturday. Northern California will face Montana at 11 a.m. today for third place.
"We just have to play good defense and get hits," said Leini Alger, who picked up the pitching victory for Pendleton Saturday.
Rachel Treloar had a huge hand in Pendleton's win over Montana, hitting two-run singles in the second and fifth innings.
"Rachel was huge and got us going," said Pendleton assistant coach Rod Hillmick. "It has a been a different girl every game and it was Rachel (Saturday)."
Pendleton, who has lost just one game, to Northern California, scored five runs in the second inning and insured itself the victory with four additional runs in the fifth frame.
"We hit the ball well and when we do we can score some runs," said Pendleton third baseman Makayla McKay, who went 2 for 3. "We're pretty excited."
Leini Alger pitched six strong innings for Pendleton, striking out eight batters in her first work in the pitching circle since the Oregon state championships.
"I just tried to breath and concentrate," Leini said. "I'm glad things went well."
Alger used an effective change-up, striking out five Montana batters, including Ashley Corcoran to halt a fifth-inning rally.
"Leini was pretty sharp," coach Hillmick said.
"She has enough speed and that change-up to keep batters off balance."
Montana used two singles and took advantage of two Pendleton errors for two runs in the third inning, but other than one run in the fifth inning, Montana struggled against Leini Alger.
"Leini pitched awesome," said Pendleton shortstop Shoni Schimmel. "We had a couple errors, but our defense backed her up."
After Treloar's two-run single in the second that scored Presley Pahl and Leini Alger, who both singled, Pendleton had all the momentum.
Montana mishandled two balls later in the inning and Pendleton took a 5-0 lead.
Pahl added an RBI single in the fifth inning and Nika Kash Kash followed Treloar's second two-run single of the game with a two-run single of her own.
"We've only had one game where we didn't hit the ball well, but when we put it in play we're capable of scoring lots of runs," coach Alger said.
"This was a fun game for the girls and we couldn't be more proud of them."
Alger, McKay, Pahl, and Treloar each had two hits as Pendleton out-hit Montana 9-6.