Five Newberg players will participate in the Little League Softball World Series this weekend as part of a cooperative team

TUALATIN — Some of the girls are excited. Really excited.

Some may be a little nervous.

One even said she’s a bit scared.

by: DAN BROOD - Jubilation - Newberg's Maddie DeVerna (center), Kendra Gooding (No. 9) and Noelle Sawyer (No. 15) celebrate after winning the Oregon District 4 tournament and earning a bid to the Little League Softball World Series, which gets underway Thursday at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland.

But they’re all smiling big and bright as they prepare to take on the best teams from all over the world.

The Tualatin City Little League Majors (ages 11-12) all-star softball team, a cooperative squad between the Tualatin City and Newberg Little League organizations, is getting ready to take the big stage as it prepares to play in the Little League Softball World Series, which will begin Thursday and run through Aug. 14 at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland.

“It’s our only opportunity,” said outfielder CheyAnn Lang, one of five players from Newberg Little League.

Tualatin City earned that rare opportunity by beating Southwest Portland Little League 11-0, in four innings, in the District 4 tournament championship game July 19 at Alpenrose Stadium.

As the host district, District 4 sends the winner of its tournament to the Little League Softball World Series each year. The series will feature 10 teams — six from various regions of the United States, one from Canada, one from the Philippines, one from Italy and one from Puerto Rico.

The Tualatin City squad, which many players refer to as “Tualaberg,” will play in the opening game of the World Series against Central Region champion Elyria, Ohio, in a pool play game starting at 10 a.m. Thursday at Alpenrose. Tualatin City will play at least four more games at the event.

It’s an opportunity that, prior to this year, had seemingly slipped through Tualatin City’s hands over and over again.

Prior to this year’s district tourney win, Tualatin City had lost in the previous three District 4 title contests. The most heartbreaking of those losses came just a year ago – when Tualatin City and Newberg first combined to field an all-star team – as TC fell 7-6 to Raleigh Hills/Lincoln. In that game, Tualatin City held a 6-1 lead going into the fifth inning, only to give up six runs, all coming with two outs, in the frame.

Six girls from that Tualatin City team — Maddie DeVerna and Nicole Sawyer of Newberg, along with Hall, Ella Hillier, Lily Marshall, and Stadick — are back on this year’s squad. And they say last year’s disheartening loss played a key factor in this year’s success.

“After last year, it made it more special this year,” Sawyer said.

“The first thing Noelle said to me at tryouts this year was that ‘last year has been eating at me for a year,’” Tualatin City manager Joey Hall said, who leads the team along with Newberg coach Kevin Potter. “And she’s definitely been a stud on defense for us this year.”

Newberg players Lang, Kendra Gooding and Samantha Teran were among the six players to join the squad this summer, so motivation hasn’t been the only factor in the team’s success.

“We all connect in different ways,” Sawyer said.

“We’re all sisters,” Elizabeth Hillier said. “We all love each other.”

And then there’s the mental aspect.

“The girls were very focused,” Joey Hall said. “They never got too high, or too low, and that really paid off.”

Whether Tualatin City can maintain that focus is yet to be seen, but the club is looking forward to its long-awaited World Series experience, including arriving at the field in a limousine.

But, win or lose, the Tualatin City team says it’s going to make the most of its once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I just want to go far,” Sawyer said. “But I don’t care if even if we lose every game — it’s going to be thrilling to be playing there.”

Tualatin City, after playing in the World Series opener Thursday, will next meet the Southeast regional champion, McLean, Va., Friday in the second of four pool play games starting at 4 p.m. On Saturday, Tualatin City will face Europe/Africa representative Milano, Italy, at 4 p.m. Tualatin City will wrap up its pool play schedule Sunday when it faces Latin America representative Maunabo, Puerto Rico, at 10 a.m.

Tualatin City will have at least one more World Series game to play after that.

The World Series semifinal games will be played at 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 and they will be broadcast on ESPN2. The World Series championship game will be played at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14, and will also be broadcast on ESPN2.

The World Series opening ceremony will be held Wednesday, starting at 3 p.m. at Alpenrose Stadium, followed by the Easton Skills Challenge at 4:30 p.m.

There is no admission fee to attend the World Series games.

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