MISSOULA, Mont. - One huge inning at the plate proved to be the difference for Zootown as they powered their way to a 15-10 victory over Southern California in the championship game of the Senior League Western Regional tournament in Missoula on Tuesday. With the first place finish, Missoula has now clinched a spot at next week's Senior League Softball World Series in Delaware.
"It was the goal," said Missoula's Macey Newbary who pitched all seven innings in the title game. "And I am so pleased that we made it. We worked hard and we came through."
Zootown, a team made up of Missoula area girls aged 14 through 16, trailed 1-0 heading into the third inning but then things escalated quickly. Missoula's Jaime Schafer kicked the scoring off with a bases clearing double to give her team a 3-1 lead, and Zootown was just getting started. The hosts tallied 10 runs before their opponents could finally escape the frame and Missoula never surrendered that lead. Southern California outscored Zootown 9-5 the rest of the way but it wasn't enough.
Schafer, who will begin her sophomore year of high school at Missoula Big Sky in the fall, paced Zootown with a clutch 4-for-4 performance at the plate including a pair of doubles and three RBI's.
"So excited knowing that we're going to the World Series," said Schafer after the game. "I don't think it's hit us yet, but it will and I'm just so excited for my team. And I know if we only had a couple players we wouldn't be able to do it. It's a team effort, not just one person."
Victorville's lead-off hitter Dana Thurston delivered two homers and finished with 5 RBI's to pace her squad in the loss.
Zootown narrowly out-hit their opponent by a final tally of 16-14. Likely the most telling statistic of the contest was that Missoula committed only one error in the ballgame compared to the seven errors that were racked up by Southern California.
It was clear from the start of the tournament four days prior that it would come down to Missoula and Southern California for the right to advance. Missoula outscored their opponents by a total of 121-25 over the course of their nine tournament games, with their only loss coming to Southern California by a score of 5-4 on Sunday. Meanwhile for the Victorville squad from out west, their only loss came in their final game with a trip to Delaware on the line, as both Missoula and Southern California finished the tournament with records of 8-1.
The Little League Softball World Series will be held next week in Sussex County, Delaware. Zootown's first game representing the Western United States will be on Monday, August 3rd against Canada at 1:00 PM Mountain time.