Last July, Lower Sussex Little League had never won a state championship for softball. Less than a year later, they’ve won three — and they’re in the running for a fourth.
Most of the Major League squad that made LSLL history last year jumped to the Junior League level for 2015, where Saturday night they won their second straight state championship by taking down District I (Camden-Wyoming), 20-6.
“This is a really good group of girls,” said head coach Mike Patille. “The girls who were not part of it last year — they’re jumping up and down higher than anyone. For them, this is the first ride.”
“We were really nervous going into Bristol [last year], but now that we’ve been there, we know that we’re going to be competition for these teams,” added pitcher Nicole Patille, who was part of the 2014 Major League team that went to Bristol. “I think we’re gonna have a better mindset, and we can win.”
Not only did the girls get past the top All-Star squads in the district and the state, but they also raised all the money necessary for the trip to regionals in less than a week — meeting a fiscal challenge they didn’t have last year, when some of their expenses were paid for at the Major League level.
But the Junior All-Stars aren’t the only team representing LSLL at the regional tournament in Connecticut for long. Just the next night, on Sunday, July 19, the Major Leaguers followed up by clinching their own division title — taking down Middletown-Odessa-Townsend (MOT) in a 6-2 thriller to earn a bid of their own.
“Last year, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t have anybody to talk to, about what even goes on up there,” added first-baseman Morgan Bomhardt, who made the trip last year. “This year it’s gonna be a lot better. We know what to expect now.”
But just as the Major League All-Stars are following the precedent set by the Junior League All-Stars, the 9-10 All-Stars are taking note, as well.
Competing for the District III championship this week, the girls had already notched victories in the first three rounds, getting past Laurel 10-7 in Game 1, and Georgetown 12-2 in Game 2, behind pitcher Camryn Ehlers’ no-hitter. Most recently, the girls took down Woodbridge 11-5 to earn a bid to the district championship on Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m. (after Coastal Point press time).
For more on the championship runs, turn to this week’s Sports section.