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Pennsylvania team wins Junior Softball World Series, Kirkland finishes with two losses
The Junior Softball World Series (JSWS) came to a close Saturday with the East U.S. team from Greensburg, Penn. defeating Mexicali, Mexico, 6-2, for the championship in front of an internationally televised audience on ESPN News from Everest Park in Kirkland.
But the event was a success for the city of Kirkland, bringing in thousands of spectators and international exposure. Overall, though, the number of spectators was down from previous years.
"A rough estimate would put it at about 4,900 this year," JSWS tournament director John Chadwick said. "That is down about 25 percent from past years."
All 16 years of the tournament have been played in Kirkland under Chadwick's direction.
"The level of play was as high as past years but more teams were at that high level and all teams were competitive with each other," Chadwick said. "There was no 'weak' team."
Many of the foreign teams were stronger this year including Mexico, which made it to the finals, and Italy, which finished third overall.
"I actually felt the overall quality of play was better with more continuation plays on defense," Steve Allen with the JSWS said. "I think the games as a whole were more interesting due to better pitching and defense."
The host team from Kirkland showed well for the third year in a row. Despite being eliminated from the championship tournament during the first round of the championship bracket, the host team finished pool play 2-2 and earned two more consolation games after its first-round loss.
Kirkland faced off against the Central U.S. team during its first consolation game on Friday, falling 7-3 despite pitcher Tori Bivens' 16 strikeouts and going 3-for-4 at the plate. All of Central's runs were unearned during the game.
Central took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning before Kirkland's offense woke up. A base hit from Taylor Sheldon scored both of Kirkland's runs to bring the home team back within a run. But Central scored three more times during the top of the fifth to put the game out of reach, despite an Alexis Welsh RBI for Kirkland during the sixth inning.
A six-run first inning was too much for Kirkland to overcome during its final game of the World Series on Saturday, as the Southwest U.S. team won 8-4.
Emma Pruss' home run was the offensive highlight of the contest for Kirkland.
Overall, the host team finished the World Series with a 2-5 record. Its performance during pool play made it one of the most formidable teams, losing both of its game by just one run and nearly taking a No. 1 seed into bracket play.
As for the tournament, Chadwick said that there are no major changes planned for 2015.
"We will have a wrap-up meeting in three or four weeks and the entire committee will discuss what went wrong and right," Chadwick said. "We may make minor changes that will be transparent to the public but will improve our conduct of the tournament."