After becoming the first female to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history, and also the first Little League player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Taney Dragons star Mo'ne Davis returned to the Lamade Stadium mound on Wednesday. She had an opportunity to lead her team to the United States Championship game Saturday.
Standing in her way was the undefeated team from Las Vegas, which was coming off a most impressive 13-2 win over Chicago on Sunday. It was without question her most difficult challenge of the summer, and not surprisingly the Las Vegas kids didn't make life easy.
She gave up three runs and was pulled in the third inning because of her pitch count. Things didn't go as sideways for Davis as they could have. She kept her poise, worked out of a few jams and managed to strike out a good number of Vegas hitters.
In the first inning, Davis surrendered a leadoff single and ultimately allowed her first run in Williamsport on a triple. That's a welcome that would rattle just about anyone, but Davis impressively shook off the early adversity to strikeout the side.
In the second inning, Las Vegas squared up Davis again, this time with a leadoff single and a two-run home run by Dallan Cave to extend their lead. Davis would escape the inning without further damage despite allowing two more hits.
She returned in the third inning but was only left in for one batter (a strikeout), before manager Alex Rice lifted her at 55 pitches. According to Little League's strict pitch count rules, that would allow her to pitch again in the United States championship game on Saturday, should Taney make it for a rematch with Las Vegas. After losing 8-1 on Wednesday, they'll need to defeat the team representing Jackie Robinson West Little League in Chicago on Thursday to get there.
Here's her final line: 2.1 IP, 6H, 3R, 1BB, 6Ks, 1HR
It's not the performance many of the 34,128 fans who attended Wednesday's game were hoping to see out of Davis. If you believe in curses, perhaps now would be a good time to mention the often talked about Sports Illustrated cover jinx. But really, the credit has to go to an exceptional Las Vegas lineup. They're out there playing just as hard, proven by right fielder Alex Barker's sensational run-saving catch, in the first inning. The team from Las Vegas wasn't intimidated by the matchup or the atmosphere, which says a lot about their collective makeup and their determination to leave Williamsport as champions.
By the way, according to ESPN Stats and Info, the attendance is higher than ten games around Major League Baseball on Tuesday. It was also over 9,000 more than the Philadelphia Phillies attendance on Wednesday afternoon.
That just speaks to the impact Mo'ne Davis has had and will continue to have this week as the Taney Dragons battle for the LLWS championship. They may be down after Wednesday's loss, but they are far from out.
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