PORTLAND, Ore. — The first one was easy for Warner Robins on Thursday.
The Southeast Regional champions took advantage of some early defensive problems by West champion Anchorage, Alaska, for a 7-2 victory in their first game of the Little League Softball World Series.
Sydney Barker and Kaylee Albritton combined to hold Anchorage to four hits, and Warner Robins roughed up two Anchorage pitchers for nine hits.
The team takes its day off today for a look around the Portland area and the Pacific coast, then gets back into action Saturday against Central champion Croswell, Mich.
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Despite the win, Warner Robins manager Emily Whaley saw enough rough edges to come away less than satisfied.
“We normally don’t make as many bonehead plays as we made,” she said. “This was not what I would call a good effort. I told them that we wouldn’t win this thing if we continued to play like this.”
It could have been worse. Warner Robins could have committed five errors, as Anchorage did, and it could have hit the ball a whole lot worse.
Warner Robins went up swinging, but didn’t exactly crush the ball — only two of nine hits were line drives — but it wasn’t because Anchorage’s pitching was too powerful.
“It was too slow,” said Barker, who had three singles to lead Warner Robins. “Our hitters are used to hitting faster pitching than that. We were getting anxious.”
Perhaps, but they certainly got enough.
Warner Robins got the jump on the game in the second inning, when Anchorage sprung three routine leaks to let in three runs.
Barker lit the fuse on the rally when she popped a one-out single into right field. Anchorage left fielder Jacynne Augufa dropped Chelsea Whaley’s routine fly ball to put runners on first and second.
Anchorage third baseman Taria Page dropped Kaylee Albritton’s foul popup to keep her at-bat alive, then threw her ground ball away at home plate as Barker slid in with the game’s first run.
Anchorage was late to second base on Sierra Stella’s sacrifice bunt, then Kelly Warner lifted a double into right-center field to score Stella and Albritton for a 3-0 lead.
“It was a fastball,” said Warner, who was also strong at third base. “It was a little outside, and I kind of popped it up.”
That was all Warner Robins needed, but it got four more in the next two innings. Carson Carriker smashed a double into left center field to score Sabrina Doucette in the third, then Georgia strung together consecutive hits by Barker, Whaley, Hannah Livingston (a double) and Ashley Killebrew for three more in the fourth.
Anchorage mounted its only rally in the fourth, which prompted Emily Whaley — Chelsea’s mom — to send Albritton to the bullpen to warm up, but Barker pitched out of it with two straight outs.
Albritton stayed in to pitch the last two innings. She struck out the side in the fifth inning, then allowed a scratch single before retiring Anchorage in the sixth.
Anchorage hit several pop flies, but that was by design.
“I just threw what Coach Roger (Stella) told me to throw,” Barker said. “A lot of them were curve balls so we could get them to pop up.”
WARNER ROBINS 7,
Warner Robins 031-300-0 — 7-9-2
Anchorage 000-200-0 — 2-4-5
WP: Sydney Barker. LP: Heather Breslin.
2B: WR — Kelly Warner.
3B: A — Taria Page.