Flagstaff Little League’s run to the Little League World Series came to an abrupt end on Thursday night with a 4-1 loss to Washington in San Bernardino, Calif. Flagstaff fell one game short of a World Series berth. 

Representing Arizona, Flagstaff beat Northern California earlier in the day to earn a spot in the West region championship game. 

They scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning but Washington scored two runs each in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings to capture the win.

Flagstaff pitcher Gracie Schmitz was on the mound for both outings but after a shutout performance in the afternoon, she struggled to contain the high-powered Washington offense. Washington came into the matchup having scored 15, 21, 11 and 10 in its previous games.

For the day, Schmitz pitched 11 innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out 11 batters (eight against Washington).

The Flagstaff defense – which had only committed one error in the whole tournament – made a crucial mistake in the fifth inning while down only one run. An infield error at second base allowed the first of two insurance runs to score, ensuring that Washington would have a comfortable margin heading into the final frame.

Flagstaff was unable to get any runners on base in the final inning and lost its first game on the West region.

Flagstaff little league softball advances to West region final

July 26, 2018, 3 p.m.

For the second time in six days, Flagstaff Little League — representing Arizona in the West region of the Little League Softball World Series — defeated Southern California.

This time, however, the stakes were much higher as the 2-0 victory advanced Flagstaff, winners of all four games it’s played so far in San Bernardino, to the regional final.

The team took advantage of an error in the first inning which allowed Flagstaff to get two runners in scoring position. Pitcher Gracie Schmitz stepped into the box and grounded out to second base, allowing a run to score from 3rd base. On the next at-bat, catcher Alyssa Fockler dropped in a single to right field that scored a second run and the team never looked back.

Schmitz struck out three batters in her 78-pitch, shutout performance. Flagstaff did not commit any errors while Southern California made two.

With this victory, Flagstaff will take on Washington at 6 p.m. on Thursday for the West region title.

Washington so far has beaten Alaska 15-1, Montana 21-0 and Oregon twice, by the scores of 11-1 and 10-0.

Winning the region will ensure that for the first time in five years, an Arizona team will be represented at the Little League Softball World Series, which starts Aug. 8 in Portland.

Flagstaff moves closer to World Series berth with win over N. California

July 24, 2018

The Flagstaff little league team remained undefeated on its quest to reach the Softball World Series on Tuesday, taking down Northern California 3-1.

The girls found themselves in an early deficit for the first time in the tournament after giving up two hits that resulted in a run being scored in the first inning. Pitcher Gracie Schmitz was not fazed, however, delivering a scoreless performance following that opening frame.

Schmitz threw 66 pitches, including four strikeouts, and only allowed one run in a three-hit performance. She also got it done from the batter’s box, going 2-for-3 on the day.

The team scored a run each in the third and fourth innings to take the lead and added an insurance run in the sixth inning to top off the performance. They got hitting support from Gianna Baca, Bella Giurlanda and Danica Wilson, who knocked in a run each.

Northern California faces Southern California at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The girls from Flagstaff have beaten each team by a 3-1 margin once already and will face one of them on Thursday at noon. The winner of that game advances to the West region title game at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Flagstaff Little League softball team remains undefeated in West region

July 23, 2018

The only undefeated team left in the West region of the Little League Softball World Series Tournament is enjoying a day at the beach. The Flagstaff Little League softball team put in its work over the weekend defeating both of its opponents and are using its off day on Monday to recuperate in the California sun.

The Flagstaff team, dubbed the “12s,” won the area, district and state titles to earn the opportunity to represent Arizona in the national tournament. The team defeated Southridge Little League from Fontana, Calif., 3-1 on Saturday.

The opening matchup of the regional was especially challenging because it was essentially playing a road game against Southern California team in southern California. Flagstaff was unfazed and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.

On the mound, Gracie Schmitz pitched all six innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits and striking out four batters. She had pitched a shutout in the first five innings before a walk and triple allowed Southridge to get on the board.

Most importantly, according to Flagstaff manager Mark Wilson, the team did not commit any errors in the opening game, which can be a huge factor at this level.

“One of our biggest strengths beyond our chemistry is our defense,” he said. “I think they’ve given us one error (for the tournament). This entire team … is a very strong defensive team. When you mix good pitching with strong defense … you’ve got a good recipe for success.”

After the opening-round win, Flagstaff advanced to take on Nevada and made quick work of its opponent in a 10-0 win that only required four innings of play.

Wilson, who is in his second year of coaching the team, said the girls on this team came together and won the 10- and 11-year-old state championship in Arizona but were too young to qualify for the annual nationwide Little League softball tournament.

This year, the majority of the girls from last year’s team came together and defeated San Xavier to capture the state title for a second straight year allowing them to travel to California.

Up next, they will take on Martinez Little League from northern California on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

If they win, they’ll have to win two games on Thursday to take the West region, which would send them to the championship rounds to be held in Portland starting on Aug. 8.

All games will be live-streamed on ESPN Plus.

Up next

Arizona (2-0) vs. Northern California (1-0)

When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.

Where: San Bernardino, Calif.

Information: Go to littleleague.org