Softball teams from all over the world made their way to Roxana this week, for the Big League and Senior League Softball World Series.
Opening ceremonies got under way on Sunday, July 31, with teams from as far away as China, the Philippines, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and as close as Millsboro/Georgetown and Laurel, being welcomed to the Pyle Center by local fans.
After a long flight over to represent Asia-Pacific in Pool A for the Big League, the Chinese team from Guangzhou Little League didn’t waste any time on the field, with a 19-2 win over U.S. West (Antelope Valley, Calif.) in what was a historic game not only for Lower Sussex Little League and the Pyle Center, but the Little League World Series as well.
“In China’s 5,000 years, this is their first time stepping on the World Series grounds at Roxana,” said translator Leo Lu.
Lu went on to note that, while the travel was difficult, that the team was happy to be there. After their first game on Monday, Aug. 1, they went on to sign game balls to be sent to the Little League World Series headquarters and museum in Williamsport, Pa.
“You could see that they were happy to do it,” said World Series Director Martin Donovan. “We’ve got a ball going to Williamsport, first pitch by a China pitcher; and then a ball, first hit by a China batter. Now when you go to Williamsport and you go into the museum, you’ll see three things from Lower Sussex, Del.”
Donovan went on to say mid-week that, so far, things have been running smooth for both series.
Even when some inclement weather rolled in after the start of the 3 p.m. games on Monday, Aug. 1, the veteran volunteer grounds crews from Lower Sussex and Millsboro got the fields back in shape and the games going again just a few hours later.
“It happens,” Donovan said of Monday’s sudden storm. “Once it starts, at that point you’ve just got to rely on your grounds crew and figure out what you’re going to do.
“We’re very, very lucky. You could almost pit [the grounds crew’s] results with a professional crew.”
Among the other big news from Roxana so far in the series was a perfect game from U.S. East (Montgomery, N.Y.) pitcher Ally Marcano against the “Dutch Destroyers” representing Europe-Africa on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Marcano tossed 15 strikeouts in the 2-0 victory and only the second perfect game from a Big League pitcher since Lower Sussex has hosted the series.
The win put East at 2-1 in Big League play. Other Big League teams leading the way include Asia-Pacific (China) and U.S. Southeast (Cape Coral, Fla.) at 2-0, Latin America (San Juan, P.R.) and U.S. Central (Escanaba, Mich.) at 2-1.
Locally, host District III from the Millsboro/Georgetown Little Leagues earned their first win against Latin America after starting the series 0-2.
In the 8-1 victory, District III pitcher Mika Walker tossed five strikeouts and Mya Maddox tallied three hits, while Brooke Stoeckel racked up three RBIs.
In Senior League play, the host District III team from Laurel Little League also earned their first win on Tuesday, rolling Latin America (Ponce, P.R.) 14-5.
“We’re not out of this thing by any stretch of the imagination,” said District III manager Duane Calloway after the win and starting the series with losses of 4-3 and 6-4.
With four teams selected for the semi-finals and tie-breakers coming down to run differential, as of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, Aug. 3, both teams from Delaware still had a chance to make a run at the World Series titles.
Pool play was set to continue through Thursday, Aug. 4, with the semi-finals set to begin on Friday, Aug. 5, and continuing through Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7.