Only three players returned, but the result was the same: a state championship.
The Rock Falls 9-10 All-Stars repeated as Little League state champions, cruising past Norridge 11-0 in four innings in Tuesday’s rainy title game at Veterans Park in Peru.
“I knew that we were going to be state champions no matter what,” 9-year-old pitcher/second baseman Jordan Morthland said. “We played as a team, we competed and we believed in ourselves.”
Maddie Sands, one of the three players returning from last year’s state title team, fired a two-hit shutout in the championship.
She had four strikeouts and no walks.
Rock Falls’ balanced attack got RBIs from nine players. Mattea Bianchi and Emalie Chavira had two RBIs apiece.
Rock Falls took immediate control, scoring four runs in both the first and second innings. It added one in the third and two in the fourth to win by the 10-run rule.
Rock Falls lost its first postseason game before reeling off nine straight wins, including avenging its opening loss to Sterling with two wins over it to claim the district title.
“Us three coaches knew we were capable of what we did,” Rock Falls manager Jay Morthland said. “We lost that first game in district to a very tough Sterling team. That was an eye-opener for them. All the girls stepped up.”
“We didn’t give up more than four runs in any game,” coach David Chavira said. “That’s a testament to great pitching and the girls knowing where to go with the ball.”
In Rock Falls’ state opener, it had eked out a 5-4 win over Norridge with two runs in its last at-bat. Alexis Whiles provided the game-winning run with an RBI double. Sands also pitched that game, striking out 10 in a four-hitter.
Rock Falls advanced to the title game with a 5-3 win over Clear Ridge. Chavira and Sands had inside-the-park home runs, while Morthland hurled a four-hitter, striking out 10.