Two more wins.
That’s all the Zootown Senior Softball League All-Stars need in order to advance to the Senior League World Series after defeating Arizona 11-1 at the Dale Clawson Complex at Playfair Park on Monday morning.
The result might not have mattered much in the standings – the teams were set to meet Tuesday in a semifinal game regardless of the outcome – but Zootown manager Kevin Miltko said it was good to see his team get on the right track after losing late to Southern California on Sunday.
“You always worry about how your kids are going to bounce back,” Miltko said. “We put Kaylee Rosenbaum on the mound and she just stuck it to them. I’m really proud of how all my kids are hitting and playing focused.”
Rosenbaum stymied Arizona. She gave up just one hit, finishing with four strikeouts and an earned run on a wild pitch in five innings of work.
“I was a little nervous at first because Arizona is a great hitting team,” Rosenbaum said, “but I just trusted in my pitches and defense and went with it.”
Kendall Rauk led the way for Zootown, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Adessa Gagner and Holly Hale both went a perfect 2 for 2, each scoring two runs.
Miltko said that though they got the easy decision today, the All-Stars weren’t eyeing Southern California in Tuesday’s championship just yet.
“We’re not looking past anybody,” Miltko said. “To punch our ticket, we have to first get past Arizona and they’re a great team. We’re going to give them everything we have (Tuesday).”
Zootown finished pool play at 6-1 and enters as the No. 2 seed for Tuesday’s single-elimination tournament semifinal against Arizona at 1:30 p.m. Southern California and Oregon play in the earlier tilt at 11 a.m.
The winners will face off at 6 p.m. on field seven at the Clawson Complex for the right to advance to Delaware to play in the Senior League World Series on Aug. 3-9.
Arizona and Zootown entered Monday’s game tied for the No. 2 seed, each coming in with a loss to Southern California.
Rosenbaum started off the game pitching low in the zone, leading to three consecutive ground outs in a quick 1-2-3 inning start for Zootown.
Gagner put the first run on the board for Missoula. After reaching base on a walk, Gagner advanced to third on a textbook bunt down the first-base line by Hale. Hale got caught in between the bags on a steal attempt, allowing for Gagner to score, putting Zootown up 1-0 early.
Zootown scored another run in the third inning. Jamie Schafer lined an RBI double to left that fell just in front of the right fielder’s mitt to score Hale to give Zootown a 2-0 lead.
Rosenbaum stayed perfect on the mound through her first 11 batters, but lost it on her 12th.
Arizona’s Tylor Gil hit a laser to left that slipped past Taylor Holmes’ glove.
Zootown began to put some distance between it and Arizona in the fourth.
Rauk continued her power hitting ways with an RBI double to score Frankie Schwenk. Gagner and Hale reached on a couple of singles, opening it up for a Macey Newbary’s two-run double. A Jaime Schafer RBI double scored Newbary to put Missoula up 6-0.
Rosenbaum had a bit of trouble in the fifth inning.
After striking out the first batter, Rosenbaum proceeded to hit her next two batters. She then gave up her first hit of the game, a single to Kaitlyn Mathias to fill the bags.
Rosenbaum almost got out of the jam without any harm after striking out Tommi Gil and inducing a ground out by Wylee Crumbaker, but a wild pitch let Mia Baldenegro score to break the shutout.
Zootown put another four runs on the board in the fifth inning.
Holmes scored the first after a Meggie Delaney fly out resulted in a nasty collision in right field between two Arizona outfielders. Rauk smacked another ball to center field that turned into a two-run double. Missoula ended the burst with a Shelby Shourds RBI single.
Hannah Hirning came in as a reliever for Zootown in the sixth inning and got the job done, letting only one runner reach base.
Sierrah Hardy doubled in the bottom of the inning for Zootown. She advanced to third on a groundout by Delaney. Rauk was walked in the next at-bat, but ball four got past Baldenegro, allowing Hardy to score the 11th run and ice the game due to Little League mercy rules.
Miltko said his team will be prepared for Tuesday’s rematch and its chance to finally get over the hump to clinch the World Series berth.
“We are feeling really good sitting at 6-1 with our only loss being a one-run differential,” Miltko said. “We’re ready to play on.”
Zootown 11, Arizona 1
Arizona 000 010 – 1 2 3
Zootown 101 441 – 11 11 1
W – Rosenbaum. L – Gil.
Arizona – Wylee Crumbaker 0-3, Mariah Guanajuato 0-3, Tylor Gil 1-3, Analisa Ramos 0-3, Arilena Martinez 0-3, Mia Baldenegro 0-1, Alexis Tarango 0-1, Kaitlyn Mathias 1-2, Tommi Gil 0-2.
Zootown – Maggie Miltko 1-1, Macey Newbary 1-3, Hannah Hirning 0-1, Kendall Rauk 2-3, Adessa Gagner 2-2, Taylor Holmes 0-2, Megan Delaney 0-2, Frankie Schwenk 0-1, Jamie Schafer 0-3, Sierrah Hardy 1-3, Callie McKillop 0-1, Kaylee Rosenbaum 0-2, Holly Hale 2-2, Shelby Shourds 1-1.
2B – Rauk 2, Schafer, Hardy. RBIs– Newbary 2, Rauk 3, Delaney, Schafer, Shourds.