Kirkland host team for the Junior Softball World Series advances to semifinals
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
August 16, 2012 · 4:55 PM
The Kirkland-based host team, Washington District 9, will play in the semifinals of the Junior Softball World Series tomorrow at 5 p.m. The Kirkland American and National Little League players were the only team to go undefeated during pool play.
Washington District 9 completed a dominant first half of the tournament with an 8-4 win against Central Escanaba Little League on Wednesday afternoon at Everest Park in Kirkland.
The win streak was made more incredible by the fact that past years have proven to be difficult for the host team.
“Kirkland is definitely looking good. There’s no reason they can’t compete, they just need to put their mind to it and forget about the stuff on the side,” said tournament director John Chadwick.
Head coach Nolan Radke said in order to win the world series the girls will have to keep improving on basic things such as hitting, catching and running, but one thing has stood out - the pitching. The team is now just two wins from the title.
Thirteen-year-old Tori Bivens said she’s been preparing “since the first districts game.”
Bivens threw a complete game two-hitter during the second game of pool play Tuesday against the Southeast Honaker Little League. Kirkland won the game 3-1 with two runs during the top of the seventh inning.
“Just being here is extraordinary,” said Bivens. “It’s phenomenal to compete with the best teams in the world.”
The team is primarily made up of 13-year-olds, which, Chadwick said, gives them a disadvantage while competing with girls a year older.
However, other teams have disadvantages as well.
“Prague has a different system, a strong club system with the Prague Baseball Club,” said Chadwick. But unfortunately, many of the rules aren’t the same as the U.S. Little League softball organization.
Chadwick said the Czech Republic has also had to deal with some language barriers.
But while the host team is younger, Chadwick said that if they were to stay on next year, they could be a “shoe in” because they’ve already competed at a world level.
Chadwick hopes that more people will show interest on Friday and Saturday.
Just over two weeks ago, he estimated over 6,000 spectators would attend the Junior Softball World Series. The series brings people from all over the world, and yet, Chadwick explained Tuesday, “attendance has dropped about 20 percent” due to the poor economy and the Asia-Pacific team dropping out.
Asia-Pacific cancelled at the last minute, leaving the series with nine teams instead of the usual 10.
While he expects local turnout to grow during the semifinals and finals with Kirkland competing on the final two days, he said Monday’s game had 200 attendees out of the expected 400.
“The economy is pinching,” said Chadwick, “which affects concession stands and everyone else.”
Despite low attendance, the World Series has been getting some special publicity. Chadwick said the Seattle Mariners have been giving a “plug” at the end of every sixth inning and Honda has issued a public service announcement. And of course, ESPN will broadcast live during the semifinals and finals.
“(The world series) has helped Kirkland softball because girls in the area can come and see the level they have to play at in order to be in the world series,” said Chadwick.
Having the host team be competitive during the past five or six years has also helped the Kirkland American and National Little Leagues grow as well as improve performance.
“Younger kids are excited to see how much fun it can be, and they want to be a part of that fun,” said Chadwick.
For more information on the Junior League Softball World Series please visit www.jrsoftballworldseries.com or Kirklandreporter.com for updates.Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 X5052.