Eastlake Little League’s Alyssa Enfield said the locals were thrilled to compete against the best teams in the world at the recent Junior League Softball World Series.
The city of Sammamish 13- and 14-year-old all-stars concluded their appearance at the 10-team event at Everest Park in Kirkland with a 5-1 win over Latin America (Soraida Juliana Little League of Willemstad, Curacao) in a consolation game on Aug. 2.
Pitcher Malia Moriarity earned the win and singled to go along with two singles each from Sophia Whipple, Ava Grossi and Abby McNear (three RBIs) and Simryn Jawanda with an RBI double.
The District 9 champions and host squad compiled a 2-4 record at the series, including a 6-4 win over Canada (Elnora Eagles Softball Little League of Alberta) on July 29, in which Moriarity had two singles, Grossi had an RBI single and Ava Steiner doubled.
“After the Canada game yesterday when we all took the picture together, that was really cool. Just getting to know people and then seeing them on the field is fun,” said Ashlyn Murray, adding that the teams bonded off the field in their hotels.
Following Eastlake’s 14-6 loss to Central (Canfield/Poland Community Little Leagues of Ohio) on July 30, Enfield said they were intimidated after watching the powerhouse squad play the day before.
“I think we as a team did really well hitting and putting up a fight against them,” said Enfield as head coach Jeff Austin noted that Eastlake was the only team to play three seven-inning games at that point.
Added Murray: “It’s really fun, kind of stressful. It was cool to see everybody battle, come back and do as best as they could and keep their heads in.”
Against Central, Leah Cupp went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Moriarity tripled and scored to lead off the game.
Eastlake played tight with eventual champion Southeast (Tampa Bay/Interbay Little Leagues of Florida) in a 5-4 eight-inning defeat on July 31. Grossi had two singles to lead Eastlake.
The following day, Eastlake dropped into the consolation round after losing, 8-4, to the Southwest squad from Columbus Little League of Texas. Eastlake bolted out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the third and Southwest tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Southwest tallied four more runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to the victory. Cupp had two hits and Rachael Carey had one hit for Eastlake, which lost to Asia-Pacific (Bulacan Little League of Norzagaray, Philippines), 21-5, on July 28.
Enfield had a blast visiting with the girls from Curacao, who tried to teach her some of their home language.
At Girls Night Out on July 29, Enfield said it was an interesting experience to watch everyone connect at the Kirkland Teen Center. No cell phones were allowed at the player-only event that featured food, learning about players’ different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, arts and crafts, games, a disc jockey and a photo booth.
“Again, the girls from Curacao were amazing. And all the international teams, it was really fun watching them interact with all the U.S. teams because there’s a little bit of a language barrier. But overall, it’s cool having 10 different teams bonding,” Enfield added.
Austin spent some quality time meeting with most of the coaches at the opening-night barbecue and was impressed with how his players mingled with everyone and made quick friends with girls from Texas, Arizona and Canada.
McNear enjoyed being part of the welcoming host squad.
“Even though you’re playing against each other, it’s like you’re almost like a family at the World Series. Last night, I was with some Canadians and some (girls) from Florida and we were doing facemasks and painting our nails in our room,” she said.