Kirkland’s 10-game winning streak came to a close in its Little League Softball World Series game on Saturday.
The locals’ first loss of the series came at the hands of the East (Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania), 12-2, in the ESPN+-streamed game from Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Oregon. Kirkland hadn’t lost since the state tournament last month and is 2-1 in Pool A play. The East finished Pool A play 3-1.
Kirkland will conclude pool action against Canada (Victoria, British Columbia) at 7 p.m. Sunday in an ESPN+-streamed matchup. Elimination play begins on Monday.
East pounced on the scoreboard first in the top of the first with three runs on four singles. They padded their lead to 5-0 with two more in the second on an RBI triple and sacrifice bunt to plate a run. After one dry inning, the East tallied three more runs in the fourth on an RBI single and a two-RBI double, and tacked on four runs in the sixth and finished with 16 hits.
East pitcher Kaya Hannon retired the first eight Kirkland batters before Emily Nielsen singled with two outs in the third. Hannon finished with eight strikeouts.
Kirkland’s bats produced a spark in the sixth with two runs on four hits, including an RBI double from Kya Aldrich, an RBI single from Hailey Story and singles from Christina Minor and Ashlyn Cook. Aldrich also singled in the fourth.
Kirkland pitcher Minor fanned the final two batters to get out of the third inning with two runners on. After Minor struck out the first batter in the fourth, Aldrich took over pitching duties for Kirkland. Minor returned with one out in the sixth.
On a hit that didn’t count, Ashlyn Cook nailed a line drive foul to the third base coach’s box that her dad, manager Chris Cook, had to bat away in the second inning. Laughter ensued.
Kirkland, which has only lost four games in three years, scored 24 runs in its first two series games.
“Yesterday’s game might have hurt us more than helped us,” said manager Cook about the girls’ 15-0 bat-wielding win over Prague. “The girls needed a reality check and today they got one. Losing is never good, but today’s loss should get the girls refocused and ready to compete.”
Aside from Oregon, Cook noted that all the teams have traveled far to play in the World Series, and Kirkland can’t expect to take any competitor lightly the rest of the way.
“We will be fine. If they are smiling and having fun, that typically means we are playing well,” Cook said.