Portland, Ore. -- The Ohio state and Central Regional champion Tallmadge softball team got off to a great start in the Little League Softball Major Division World Series with a 10-1 win over tournament host team Oregon Aug. 7 at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Ore.
Pitcher Emily Pratt had a phenomenal performance in the pitching circle in tossing a five-hitter with eight strikeouts and two walks to help lead Tallmadge to the complete-game victory.
Pratt also was the team's leading hitter too as she was 4-for-4, with three singles and a double and four runs batted in.
"After we get one hit, it kind of helps provide a spark to the entire team and it helps build our confidence level," said Pratt, who utilized an effective changeup and fastball to keep batters off balance often.
"I can usually rely on the fastball and changeup to do the most damage against opponents. When we won regionals [July 24 in Indianapolis], I actually started crying, because I was so excited and so happy and I just couldn't believe we were going to the World Series. It has been a lot of fun here ever since we arrived in Portland [Aug. 5]."
Tallmadge, guided by manager Nick Dadich and coaches Brett Bickar and Jim Loveless, was scheduled to play its second game Aug. 8 against the European All-Stars of the Prague, Czech Republic. Results were unavailable at press time.
Tallmadge is set to return to the field Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. to meet the Southeast Region champion Pioneer Little League All-Stars of Columbus, Ga.
Tallmadge is scheduled to continue in the 10-team, eight-day event with it's final pool play contest Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. against Latin America. The semifinals are set to follow Aug. 12 and the championship game is scheduled for Aug. 13. ESPN 2 is expected to televise both the semifinals and finals.
"All the girls are capable of hitting well," said Dadich, who owns a restaurant in Tallmadge called Delanie's Grill, where games can be seen Aug. 11 on ESPN 3 via the internet and Aug. 12 and Aug. 13 too.
"Coming from a town of 17,000 people, softball and baseball are huge events back home. They follow the teams just like they follow their pastors at their churches.
"Everyone loves this team and they've supported it very well. I've been getting text messages and emails from all my friends because they want to know how we're doing."
Tallmadge (12-1) took a 1-0 first inning edge on a sacrifice RBI groundout by Lauren Tecka, as catcher Jorydyn Severns (one hit and two runs scored) scored from third.
Severns, Tallmadge's leadoff batter, walked, stole second and advanced to third on a fielder's choice to get into scoring position.
"It felt awesome to score our first run because sometimes I get out at the beginning of games, which is kind of disappointing, but it was pretty exciting," said Severns. "Whenever we score first, it just seems like our team plays so much better.
"I was surprised about the lopsided score, because we thought that they were a really good team. We really outplayed them though, with everyone going out there and hitting so well. Our goal is to make it to the semis and the championship and play in the nationally televised games."
Oregon came back in the bottom half of the frame, knotting it at 1-1 at the end of the first. Following a scoreless second, Tallmadge took control of the contest with a six-run third inning rally.
Severns again ignited the rally with her leadoff single. A Lizzie Bickar single and a Tecka walk loaded the bases. Severns scored on a one-out RBI single by Gia Spitali (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) to load the bags again. Pratt then connected for a bases-clearing blast deep to center field for a three-run double, extending the margin to 5-1.
Autumn Malicoat followed Pratt on the base paths with a bunt single. Delanie Dadich (the manager's daughter), then drilled a grounder to left field for a two-run single, scoring Pratt and Malicoat to make it 7-1. Oregon (6-1) then went down in order in the bottom of the third.
The Tallmadge offense continued to roll in the fourth, highlighted by RBI doubles by Katie Hussing (who had a single and a double) and Spitali and Pratt's RBI single, which pushed Tallmadge in front 10-1 after four innings.
The score remained the same after the final two scoreless innings as Oregon was simply overpowered by Tallmadge's potent offensive attack (11 total hits) and its solid rock defensive effort.
"I look to see how well we're swinging the bats and how they're thinking during the game, so the score really doesn't matter too much to me," said Nick Dadich. "If the girls are getting good swings at pitches without scoring, then that's OK with me as long as we're winning.
"We try not to run up the scores against teams. When we got the big lead, we started to work on some things that we wanted to improve on such as bunting.
"Some girls were bunting late in the game when they normally would be swinging hard. We wanted them to get some bunts down."
Tallmadge is making its first World Series appearance since 2000. The squad celebrated its opening round victory by traveling to the scenic Oregon Coast after the 10 a.m. contest concluded.
"I don't want to sound like I'm overconfident, but we've played the best teams in Ohio and the top regional squads and we've beaten some of the best teams that I've seen all year," said Nick Dadich. "The teams that are here are just as good as some of the teams we've already played, but they're not necessarily better.
"I know that we can play competitively with any team here. If I was going to bet on which teams from each pool would advance to the finals, I would bet on my team and the East Regional champions from Robbinsville, New Jersey."