Mackenzie Burke smiled and noted that her team is like her family. The Kirkland all-star pitcher wants to do her best for her teammates, and when they’re all working together, good things happen.
The locals were spot-on during Monday’s contest against Asia-Pacific.
Kirkland hammered away to a seven-run second inning and cruised from there in an 11-1 victory over Tanauan City, Philippines at the Junior League Softball World Series at Everest Park. Kirkland is 2-0 in the series.
Kaci Gordon led the Kirkland barrage with three hits — including a bases-loaded triple — and four RBIs; Amy Chen had two hits, three RBIs and scored two runs; Abbie Reynolds had two hits; and Kaia Bradford scored two runs. Kirkland amassed 12 hits.
Gordon said connecting with the ball and rocketing line drives into the outfield is satisfying.
“When there’s bases loaded, it’s kind of stressful. You’re out there for your team. Those hits aren’t for me, they’re to pick up my team,” she said.
Burke went the distance in the five-inning game and earned the win.
She said her dropball and fastball were tops in her pitching arsenal, and added that defenders such as Reynolds, Maliena Carelli, Maddy Miller and Claire Towey were solid with their gloves.
“It’s just an amazing feeling of being out there and knowing that you have your whole team behind you, no matter what,” Burke said. “Knowing that you have defense behind you. Knowing that whatever you do, they will support you.”
In the Kirkland American/Kirkland National team’s series opener on Sunday, the girls defeated Canada (Victoria, BC), 3-2.
Pitcher Ruby Olmstead earned the win (Antonia Norman also pitched four innings) and Bradford, Gordon, Lilly Bean and Miller had one hit each. Gordon hit a bases-loaded double in the top of the fifth inning to put Kirkland up 3-2. In the bottom of the seventh inning, center fielder Chen fired a throw to catcher Anna Fridell to nab a Canadian runner at home to end the game.
“It was super stressful walking onto the field, especially because there was a big crowd, probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” Gordon said of the opener. “You kind of gotta keep that mental game really strong. If you do that, you’ll have a good game, which is exactly what we did.”
Gordon added that it was intense when Canada was up to bat in the seventh. And craziness ensued when Chen threw the runner out.
With two wins in the books, Kirkland’s coaches told the players in a postgame meeting on Monday that it’s their time to continue making an impact. One goal is also to improve every game.
Burke said she felt nervous during last year’s World Series, but her second time around has been going smooth, she knows the terrain and she’s having fun.
“This year, getting out here and winning the first two games, it’s really boosted our confidence,” she said. “We love the game of softball — and we play hard for it. To see Kaci come up with that huge hit and have a base-clearing triple, it really brings everybody joy because we know that she loves softball just as much as everybody else, and that we’re all here together.”
Kirkland will next play Southeast (Mechanicsville, Va.) at 11 a.m. Tuesday and Central (Poland, Ohio) at 5 p.m. Tuesday.