Dream season comes to an end

Anna Larson and Alexis Blakey recite the Little League pledge along with two members of San Marinos team prior to the matchup between the teams. -
Anna Larson and Alexis Blakey recite the Little League pledge along with two members of San Marinos team prior to the matchup between the teams.
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Stilly suffers heartbreaking 6-5 loss in regional tourney

FORT VANCOUVER The Stilly Valley Dream Team, made up of the best young fastpitch players in the region, saw their incredible season come to an end Aug. 4.
The Dream Team won district and state playoffs in order to compete at the regional championships in Vancouver, Wash. Playing against the best talent from the Northwest and Southwest Regions, Stilly showed why they belong as one of the top youth teams to ever come out of Arlington.
After a 10-0 demolition of Team Oregon in Game 1 of the regional, the Dream Team went on to defeat Idaho 6-0, Alaska 8-0 and host Evergreen 9-0 in the Northwest portion of the bracket. Stilly outscored their opponents 33-0 during that run as their strong pitching completely dominated the games.
However, tougher tests awaited as Stilly had to face off against Southern California in the semi-final game of the region. Southern California lost only once on the opposite side of the bracket, a 7-6 extra-innings defeat to Northern California.
The Saturday, Aug. 4, game between Stilly Valley, Wash. and San Marino, Calif. was one for the ages. Stilly fought valiantly and nearly overcame a questionable umpires ruling before falling 6-5.
Considering Stilly pitchers had yet to concede a run, the game started perfectly for the Washington girls. Stilly got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning on a run-scoring fly ball from Lynsey Amundson. Arianna Barrio beat out a bunt single to open the game and moved to third base on a solid single from Veronica Ladines. Barrio then scored on Amundsons deep fly ball to put Stilly up 1-0.
The lead would be short-lived as the powerful bats of San Marino answered back in the bottom half of the inning. They got three singles wrapped around a walk to lead 3-1 heading into the second frame.
Stilly went quietly in the top of the second but San Marino padded their lead in the bottom half. Two of the powerful middle-of-the-order bats came through with long doubles and San Marino nudged further ahead 5-1.
Both teams failed to score in the third inning, before the fourth inning changed the game for both teams. Amundson led off the top of the fourth with a bloop single. Alexis Blakey then followed with a single of her own to put runners on the corners. Anna Whitehouse blasted a two-RBI triple to clear the bases and stood on third base with no outs. What followed could only be described as odd and unfortunate for Stilly Valley.
Anna Larson was subbed in to hit for No. 14 Alexa Chase, the seventh hitter in the order. Either the umpire did not hear the correct number or did not understand Coach Jim Barrios substitution. Larson came to the plate and hit a chopper toward second base which she beat out for an infield single. Whitehouse scored on the play bringing the score to 5-4 in favor of San Marino.
A long discussion followed the at-bat between the plate umpire, all four field umpires, and the scorers table ruled that Larson had been listed as a substitute for No. 24 Kaylee Aune, the eighth batter in the order. The home plate umpire ruled that the seventh spot would receive an automatic out, Whitehouse would be returned to third base and Larson would bat again, this time in the eighth spot.
Considerable confusion and delay turned into disappointment for Stilly as Larson failed to come up with another hit in her second try. Instead of 5-4, Stilly trailed 5-3 again heading toward the bottom of the fourth inning.
Remarkably, the young girls did not panic. Ladines went out and pitched a quick inning for Stilly, holding the score at 5-3 and giving the Dream Team bats another chance to get hot. In the top of the fifth inning Stilly got two-out RBI singles from both Blakey and Whitehouse to tie the game 5-5. However, given that Stilly had a run removed in their previous inning, the score could have stood at 6-5 in favor of the Washington team.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Ladines got some help in the field behind her as Arianna Barrio turned a crucial double play with two runners on base. With San Marino runners at first and second, Barrio fielded a ground ball and tagged the runner going to third base before firing to second base for a force out. All momentum swung in the favor of Stilly as the teams headed toward the sixth and final inning.
But it was not to be for Stilly. They could not produce any more runs in the top half to jump in front and San Marino turned a lead off triple into the games final run to win 6-5.
That fourth inning killed us, said Barrio afterward. It probably cost us the game.
Regardless of the outcome, Stilly battled the California team to the very end, overcoming plenty of adversity along the way.

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