Portland Oregon-The Wheelersburg Little League softball team will begin their week of games at the Little League Softball World Series this week in Portland, Oregon.
The tournament will begin Wednesday and will conclude next Wednesday.
Their first game of the pool play round will be against the team representing Latin America, Liga Cuauhtemoc from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. This will be their first game of four in the pool play round.
The story of the Central Region tournament for the girls from Wheelersburg was offensive fire power, as they outscored their opponents 41-1 over the course of their five game tournament run. This also includes their outscoring of post season opponents this year 90-2 over their district, state and central region tournament runs.
Not to be forgotten is the incredible pitching performances displayed by the two starting pitchers for Wheelersburg, AndiJo Howard and Ashlee Spence. Howard, who threw a no hitter in the teams opening game of the central region tournament against Floyds Knobs (Ind.), did not need to start for her team again in their next three games. This deserved few games off for Howard was able to take place because of the sheer domination by Ashlee Spence over those three games that led Burg to the championship game.
Spence, who is somewhat considered Burg’s secondary option on the mound, did not live up to that moniker during her time in Zionsville two weeks ago. In one of her outings, she threw a perfect game through four innings while only managing to throw thirty-five pitches in those four innings. Spence did not allow a run in any of her three starts, and only managed to give up three hits in those appearances.
Howard pitched an incredible championship game two weeks ago, only allowing a single run to cross the plate in the Wheelersburg 3-1 victory over the team representing Iowa. Although the bats were not as prevalent in that championship game, the pitching from Howard and strong, consistent defensive play from Wheelersburg led them to a well handled victory.
Winning the Central Region tournament was a moment head coach Dusty Salyers knows him or his team will never forget. “They were ecstatic, they had tears of joy” Salyers said. “They were jumping, throwing their gloves. I can’t even really describe how happy they were. I just know when they needed that one out, I kind of looked around and they were up on the fence, couldn’t wait to rush out on the field.” Needless to say, if Wheelersburg is able to make a run in this upcoming tournament, their emotions will be uncontainable.
Salyers said at the team’s welcoming parade last Sunday that although he was incredibly proud of all his team had accomplished, their goal remained unchanged: win the last tournament that stood in front of his girls. “We’re not done yet, we’ve got one more tournament,” said Salyers as he addressed the crowd at the parade celebration, “We’re going to go out there not just to play, but to win it. And we need all your support.”
The parade for the team began at Lowe’s in Wheelersburg and ran all the way to the Gene Bennett Park. All along the way were cars of people cheering on the team and the procession of cars that followed. Once they reached the field, the team was greeted by a crowd of a couple hundred people who couldn’t have been prouder of the accomplishments of this group of girls. Anytime that our community has a chance to come out and support” said Salyers, “you’re going to have support, you’re going to have a showing. That’s what is great about Wheelersburg.”
If the girls from Wheelersburg wish to make a run in this tournament, they must continue their efficient play they showcased during the Central Region tournament. ESPN announcer Leigh Dakich, who called each of the Wheelersburg regional games, could not have been more impressed with the level of play that Salyers’ team showcased. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team at that age as well organized and as focused as they were” said Dakich, “They came to win, and they did it very impressively.”
Joining the Wheelersburg LL team in pool A will be Bacolod City West LL representing the Asia-Pacific region, Lake Oswego LL representing Oregon District Four, and Eastbank LL representing the Southwest Region. Wheelersburg will face Bacolod City West LL in their second game of pool play on Friday at 1 p.m, after being given the day off from play on Thursday.
With a group of five teams in each pool, each team will play its pool opponents one time in a round robin style event. The team with the worst record and run differential in each pool will not be seeded into the tournament after each team has played its four pool games. Although the teams with the worst record and run differential do not make the tournament, those teams still will play games against the teams who are first knocked out of the tournament.
Anyone interested in watching any of the Wheelersburg Little League games this week can go to ESPN Plus, which is ESPN’s online streaming service, and watch any of the games in Portland if you subscribe to the service. Some of the games in the later stages of the tournament will be featured on the main ESPN channels on television.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT