PORTLAND — One win away from a matchup with the defending national champions on national television, Snow Canyon Little League had big plans heading into Monday’s quarterfinal game against New Jersey.
“I don’t know what happened, why we didn’t respond,” said Snow Canyon coach Markay Thorkelson. “I believe we came ready to play. I guess our bats just didn’t have anything left. Their pitching wasn’t anything that great, we just didn’t hit.”
The team from Robbinsville, N.J., grabbed a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first, though it could have been much worse. With the bases loaded and just one out, Jenna Thorkelson was able to field a grounder and toss out the lead runner at home with Kambrie Stuart making the play at the plate. Thorkelson then got the next batter to ground out to Ginny Deming at second base to retire the side.
“That was big for us to get out of that jam with just one run,” Markay Thorkelson said.
Snow Canyon then got a couple of runners on in the bottom of the first as Ty Mooring singled and Addison Lacayo walked. But New jersey pitcher Brynn Hopkins was able to wriggle out of the jam by inducing a groundout to end the first inning.
The East team then scored six runs in the top of the second and three more in the third to pull away for the mercy-rule shortened win.
Hopkins was spectacular, allowing just one hit and two walks.
For Snow Canyon, it was a disappointing end to what was otherwise an amazing experience.
“It’s been an incredible learning experience,” Thorkelson said. “The girls learned a lot about themselves. We learned that when things get tough, you can’t just walk away. You have to hold your head high and stay with it. And we learned that softball isn’t everything, that there’s more to life. And we learned to play for someone else. That’s what it was all about.”
Coach Thorkelson was referring to Kennadi Gates, a 10-year-old softball player for Snow Canyon who was diagnosed with leukemia at the beginning of the softball season.
“We did this all for her,” Markay Thorkelson said. “She is an inspiration for us. She’s fighting for her life and the girls see that a little adversity in a softball game is nothing compared to that.”
Snow Canyon does have one more game, a consolation game Wednesday morning (9 a.m. PST) against the Netherlands.
The Snow Canyon team has now gone 2-2 in games played at the Softball World Series, plus a forfeit for the Sunday game. The team earned the right to represent Utah with a state tournament win in Cedar City and then Snow Canyon took the tournament title in San Bernardino, Calif., to earn the right to represent the West Region of the USA.
“It’s been an amazing experience, starting in Cedar and all the way to now,” Markay Thorkelson said. “The girls really bad wanted to make it to tomorrow and the ESPN game (semifinals), but it just didn’t work out for us today.”
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