Between the rain delayed season, only practicing together twice, and not having an opponent in the District III tournament, the Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke (LMN) Junior League all-star softball team didn’t have very much experience playing together going into last week’s state tournament. None of that seemed to matter as the team topped Delaware District I (Dover), 19-0 and 25-3, to win the state title and move on to the Eastern Regionals in Orange, Conn., which start on Friday.
“It’s been a good two nights,” said manager Jason Tribbitt, who experienced winning a state title for the first time. “They came together as a team.”
LMN opened state tournament play with a 19-0 win over District I last Monday in Seaford. The two teams took to the field again on Tuesday with the Dover team needing a win to force a final game.
McKenna Boyle reached on an infield single, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead for District III. District I answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning as Meghan Graves doubled and scored on a ground out by Jaylee Landfried and pitcher Kayla Oman singled, stole second and third, and scored on a ground out.
In the top of the second inning, Emma Cooper singled, Isabelle Wade walked, and Caylen Jorgenson singled them. Kamryn Payne singled in Jordan Evans (walk) and scored on a triple by Boyle; Hannah Moore walked; and Ella Justice hit a three-run home run. Wade doubled in Bree Coral (walk) and Cooper (first on error) before scoring on a groundout by Jorgenson for an 11-2 advantage.
Moore sent District I down in order in the bottom of the second, striking out a pair before reaching on an infield single and scoring on a single by Justice in the third. Justice and Coral (walk) came home on a single by Cooper; Jorgenson singled in Cooper and scored on a single by Evans and an error, which allowed Evans to go all the way around the bases (17-2).
Wade came on to pitch in the third and worked a 1-2-3 inning for District III. In the top of the fourth, District III scored eight more runs as Moore reached on an error, Bree Bryan walked, and a single by Cooper and an error drove them in. Wade drove in Maddie Dempsey (walk) with a single; Evans singled in Cooper; Boyle singled to plate Wade; and a single by Bryan brought home Evans, Shyla Donovan, and Boyle for a 25-2 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Oman singled and scored on a wild pitch, but Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke held on to win, 25-3.
Jorgenson collected two hits and drove in four; Cooper had three hits, four runs, and three RBIs; Justice added two hits including a home run and drove in four; Evans contributed three hits and three runs; and Boyle had three hits and three runs. Moore also scored three runs and Wade had two hits, three RBIs and two runs.
The team enters the tournament in Connecticut confident that it can be competitive.
“We feel out pitchers, our hitting, and our defense can hold us through it,” Tribbitt said. “We’re going there to win.”
The LMN manager also said that the team is raising money to make the trip.