As two evenly matched teams vying for a Big League Softball World Series bid, it’s no wonder that Millsboro and Laurel need an odd number of games to determine which team will represent host District III in next month’s Little League World Series in Roxana.
Millsboro led what was supposed to be a 12-game series 4-2 heading into a tripleheader last Monday, July 21, but lost all three games of the series, to fall behind 5-4. However, the team would bounce back in another tripleheader on Tuesday, July 22, winning the first two games of the night before falling in the third and allowing Laurel to even the series at 6-6, necessitating a final matchup between the teams this Friday.
“I think the first game took the steam out of us, kind of put the momentum in their court, and we didn’t recover after that,” said Millsboro coach Monroe “Monnie” Hudson of the Monday-night series after the third consecutive game on Tuesday. “The girls did a great job tonight. They bounced back, and they pulled out the first two, which is huge.”
“We had some timely hits. The girls just came out and fought,” added head coach Guy Wilkins. “They’re warriors. They’re battlers. They’re gonna do everything they can do to win a game, and backs were against the wall, so they came out and played great softball.”
Some of those timely hits came from some timely hitters, as centerfielder Alexis Burger and catcher Morgan Smith took turns knocking each other home for key runs in Tuesday’s wins.
“I just knew I had to get the ball in play, score some runs,” said Burger, who scored the first game’s only run on a Smith hit and then followed suit in the second game with an RBI of her own.
Burger’s RBI gave Millsboro a 3-0 in the fourth inning of that game, with Smith blasting a two-run homer just an inning prior, for the game’s first two runs. RBI’s from Rachel Hudson and Jodi Powell would give Millsboro their fourth and fifth runs of the night.
Laurel tried to put together a late-inning comeback, but a strikeout from Hudson and two key plays at third from Karlie Smith would lock in a 5-2 win.
“We knew that we had to get [ourselves] together for tonight,” Rachel Hudson said of bouncing back from Monday night’s performance. “I was just kind of focused — last night we didn’t do so hot, so I wanted to come back and prove myself tonight. We scored early, and I think that was a big part of it — the third game we got down early, so it was hard to come back.”
Laurel ace pitcher Reagan Green took the mound in the third matchup of the night, as the girls’ bats cooled down in a 3-0 loss.
With that game putting the series at 6-6, the teams will face off this Friday night at Lower Sussex in a seven-inning matchup to determine who will head to the World Series as the host team. Green will take the mound for Laurel on Friday, while Mykala Steele will start the game for Millsboro.
“We just have to watch [Green] release the ball from her hands, because she has a lot of movement and spin on the ball,” Burger said of the keys to Friday’s matchup. “We have to stay pumped up the whole game, because it’s the last one — it’s for all the marbles.”
Friday’s World Series deciding game will begin at 7 p.m. at Lower Sussex. Follow @CPointSports on Twitter for live updates on that game.