Italy shocks Honolulu in quarterfinals of Little League Softball World Series
The Honolulu all-stars saw their season come to an unexpected end Monday night with a 4-1 loss to the Europe-Africa champs out of Milano, Italy, in the late quarterfinal game at the Little League Softball World Series.
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PORTLAND, Ore. >> The Honolulu all-stars saw their season come to an unexpected end Monday night with a 4-1 loss to the Europe-Africa champs out of Milano, Italy, in the late quarterfinal game at the Little League Softball World Series.
Honolulu appeared to be favorites to take the Series after running through pool play with a 4-0 record, outscoring their opponents by a combined count of 33-6.
But Honolulu struggled to get the bats going under the lights Monday night, waiting until the sixth inning to put across its only run when Mariah Antoque came home on the only error of the game. Taryn Ho followed with a line-drive single to center field that allowed the tying run to step into the batter’s box, but any thoughts of a miracle comeback were dashed by a ground ball to first base to end the night.
Nikki Chong led off the sixth inning with a double to left field, but Italy threw her out trying for home during the next at-bat. She initially was ruled safe, but the call was overturned after a video review.
Italy scored what proved to be the winning run in the fourth inning on Matilde Del Col Balletto’s fly ball to right field. The Italians would build the margin to 4-0 in the fifth when Ludovica Garavello came home on a wild pitch.
The loss leaves Honolulu to face the Central champs out of Polk City, Iowa, in a consolation game Wednesday before returning home.
The West Region champs ran roughshod through pool play, facing their toughest challenge Thursday when they collected a 7-5 win over the pesky East champs out of South Williamsport, Pa.
After trading early runs, Hawaii pulled ahead to stay 3-1 in the third inning when Jenna Sniffen drilled a two-run double down the left-field line.
Sniffen returned to the batter’s box in the next inning and smashed a three-run homer that cleared the left-field fence in a hurry, collecting high-fives from the Williamsport players as she rounded the bases.
“It felt good to hit one out — I was just trying to help my team,” Sniffen said.
The blast put Honolulu in charge 7-1 midway through the game, with the home run proving to be the difference in the game.
Williamsport would push across two runs in each of the last two innings and had the tying run at first base when Ho scooped up a ground ball on the right side and made the toss to first base to end the game.
“Jenna’s hitting and pitching was key for us today, and our defense supported her with some good plays out there,” Honolulu manager Chad Willing said after the Thursday game.
Sniffen finished 4-for-4 at the plate, with two doubles to go along with her homer. She also went the distance in the pitcher’s circle.
Honolulu opened the tournament with an 11-1 win over the Central champs out of Polk City, Iowa, on Wednesday.
On Friday, Honolulu defeated the Asia-Pacific team out of Bacolod City in the Phillippines 7-0.
Honolulu wrapped up pool play with an 8-0 win over the Latin America team out of Mexico City on Sunday.
The top five hitters in Honolulu’s lineup combined to go 7-for-15 and accounted for all of the team’s runs.