Don’t tell the Redmond/Eastlake Junior Little League All Stars they’re underdogs.
The 14 girls — seven from Redmond, and seven from Sammamish — entered this week’s Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland as the District 9 host team, the only team out of 10 not required to win a multi-state, or multi-national regional tournament.
After four games of pool play, Redmond/Eastlake held its own. They finished Pool A play with a 1-3 record, and can place no worse than eighth overall.
“They haven’t quit,” said head coach Mark Gransee, Tuesday, after falling 13-2 to the Southeast representative from Tampa Bay, Fla. “Every game they’re playing hard to the end, and that’s all we really ask, is to keep fighting.”
Redmond/Eastlake opened the World Series on Sunday with a 12-5 loss to Latin American representative, Maunabo, Puerto Rico. It appeared the local team was in for its second loss of the tournament on Monday, trailing Canadian representative Windsor, Ontario, 10-1, after three innings. They chipped away over the next four innings, however, before scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to win, 11-10.
“They came in with the right attitude,” Gransee said. “Getting here wasn’t good enough. They came to win.”
Redmond/Eastlake struggled early on Tuesday, as Tampa generated five runs in the top of the first inning. Redmond/Eastlake scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the first via an RBI single from Blake Gransee, and an RBI single from Hannah Raudebaugh. The offensive power ran out, however, as they could only muster two more hits over the next four innings.
“We just didn’t have our A-game today,” Gransee said.
Redmond/Eastlake dropped its final game of pool play on Wednesday, 12-8 to Southwest representative La Grange, Texas. They will play the No. 3 seed from Pool B, Nanticoke, Pa., at 1:45 p.m., today, Aug. 21. The winner moves into the fifth-sixth place game at 9:30 a.m., Saturday on Everest Park’s Field B. The loser plays in the seventh-eighth place game at 9:30 a.m. on Field C.
Regardless of the finish, Gransee said he couldn’t be more proud of the way his team bonded, especially joining from two different communities.
“It’s hard to tell who’s from where,” he said. “They came together, they play as one team, and they get along. It’s just been such a joy watching them make those friendships and play well together.”
Players from Sammamish include, Abby Goax, Jamie Midkiff, Rachael Levine, Kristen Holec, Yasmin Luqman, Jessica Rubideaux and Nicole Dankert. Redmond players include, Ashley Walls, Kelly Walls, Blake Gransee, Hannah Raudebaugh, Melissa White, Stephanie Lin and Elaine Wang.
The third-fourth place and the ninth-10th place games take place at 11:30 a.m, Saturday. The championship game is set for 4 p.m., Saturday and will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic. It will be aired again at noon, Sept. 11 on ESPN2.