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.
Right now the Pyle Center is lively with action from local softball All-Stars, but soon it will be lively with international ones, as well.
Both the Big League and Senior League World Series will return to Roxana on Sunday, Aug. 2, and span through Sunday, Aug. 8, drawing some of the top Little League talent from around the world.
Two-time World Series champion ASOFEM Little League will make their ninth consecutive appearance in Roxana in Senior League action, with teams from British Columbia (Canada) and the Philippines going against them, and Prague (Czech Republic) marking the first Czech team to play in a softball World Series.
I was all set to write about the great white shark that tried to eat Mick Fanning while he was surfing in the J-Bay Open this week, but then something more exciting happened.
He’s surfed some of the heaviest waves in the world at Pipeline. Paddled out with the great whites at Jeffrey’s Bay. And even sucker-punched Jason Segel on set of the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
But before his second trip to Delaware, pro-surfer Kalani Robb had only been skimboarding once.
“That was something new for me,” said Robb of the spontaneous skim session with local groms at the state line beach on Tuesday, July 21. “There was enough waves this morning that we just skimmed.”
Robb was in town with Catch Surf stars including newcomer Tyler Stanaland, getting shown around town by fellow Catch Surf team riders and Sussex County’s very own Brian Stoehr and Bill Baxter and Catch Surf East Coast sales manager Ryan Savage.
It took almost three and a half decades to get there. But it only took six and a half innings to get back.
After the Lower Sussex Little League All-Stars clinched the program’s first state title for softball at the Major League level in 2014, they’ve done it again at the Junior League level less than a year later — rolling District I (Camden Wyoming) 20-6 on Saturday night to earn a trip back to the regional tournament in Connecticut.
But despite the convincing final, Lower Sussex only led by one run after three innings.
“It was just butterflies,” said head coach Mike Patille of the close start. “Once that settled down, once we started driving the ball, that went away — we played our game.”
“After people got on base, we came together — we just started hitting the ball,” added third-baseman Kaylah Briddell. “We never give up. We always have faith and confidence in our team.”
Briddell led off the first inning with an infield single, getting to second on an obstruction call and rounding third the next at-bat, on an RBI-single from pitcher Nicole Patille, to make it 1-0.
The precedent had been set the year before. And the night before, too.
After the Lower Sussex Little League Junior All-Stars had won the program’s first state championship as Major Leaguers in 2014, they won the program’s second state championship as Junior Leaguers on Saturday night.
So, when this year’s Major Leaguers had a chance to win a state title of their own on Sunday night, they delivered — holding on for a 6-2 win against District I (Middletown-Odessa-Townsend) to earn a trip to Bristol, Conn., for the regional tournament.
“We get to do what they did last year,” said catcher Savannah O’Shields, whose sister Abby O’Shields pitches for the Junior League team and played for the Major League team last year. “I really wanted to get there, because my sister got there — so I had to get there [too].”
After a sixth-inning triple from right-fielder Ursula Barrientos and ensuing RBI from Morgan McGee led to a 7-5 comeback win against MOT on Friday, July 17, the girls found themselves in a back-and-forth battle again on Sunday, July, 19.
After winning their second straight state championship, the Lower Sussex Junior League All-Stars are headed to the regional tournament in Connecticut — that is, if they can raise enough money first.
Last year, at the Major League level, after becoming the first LSLL softball team in program history to win a state title, some of the girls’ expenses were covered when they got to Bristol, Conn., for tournament play. But this year, at the Junior League level, they’re going to need a little more help.
“Last year, all the girls’ lodging, all the girls’ meals, all the girls’ laundry was all done by Bristol — none of it is this year,” explained LSLL head coach Mike Patille. “We gotta get the girls hotel rooms; we gotta get transportation back and forth to the parks; we gotta feed them; we gotta get their uniforms laundered every day — everything is on us this year.”
Patille estimated that, including travel expenses and lodging, the team need could need to raise upwards of $10,000 to make it to regionals to battle for a chance to get to the Little League World Series in Washington.
They only needed six innings.
After third-baseman Kaylah Briddell belted a lead-off single and then stole second base, the Lower Sussex Junior League All-Stars never let up, rolling District I (Camden-Wyoming) 12-1 in the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday night.
Briddell would eventually score, to give LSLL a 1-0 lead, after being knocked in on a line-drive shot to center off the bat of pitcher Nicole Patille. Patille tripled on the play, making it 2-0 when catcher Grace Snyder managed to hit her in on an infield double. Then, Snyder would head for home after a double from LF/P Abby O’Shields, beating the throw home, to give Lower Sussex a 3-0 lead.
“When you start game and you get runs immediately, the wind’s in your sails,” said LSLL head coach Mike Patille. “Everybody was driving. All of it came together.”
Ever since Rachel Armstrong punched me in the stomach for telling her she “threw like a girl” in third grade, I’ve been pretty wary about what I say when it comes to women and sports. That gut-wrenching shot (that I totally didn’t cry from, by the way) was a pretty good reminder that not only can girls throw, but they can hit too.
It’s a situation that he’s been in before. Almost.
A quarterback that can run. A running back that can run. Another running back that can run, and a triple option offense.
But despite the array of talent to compete with, former Indian River High School and current Salisbury University tailback Aaron Moore is still establishing himself as one of the team’s most productive players. Just like he always has.
“In high school, he was such a hard worker, but a lot of times people didn’t notice because it wasn’t just him,” explained Indian River head football coach and Salisbury alumnus Phill Townsend. “You had Jalen [Griffin] and Jamie [Jarmon], so they kind of had to share the spotlight.”
After winning a state championship with the Indians with Jarmon at the helm, Moore went on to again share the workload and the spotlight with Griffin and former Indians’ signal-caller Marquel Knight in the backfield as a senior. And again, he produced — rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns, and helping lead the Indians to another South championship and playoff appearance.
A 30-foot camper will make its way to local beaches on Tuesday, and it’s bringing some of surfing’s most lively talent with it.
Pro-surfers and Catch Surf poster boys including Kalani Robb, Jamie O’Brien and Johnny Redmond will all be on board for the final stop on Catch Surf’s Mid-Atlantic “Get Wet” Tour,.in Ocean City, Md.
They’ll be signing autographs at K-Coast, stamping boards, giving away gear and hitting the water with local groms for a 6 p.m. “Expression Session” and “Beater Contest” on 35th Street.
That’s where local pros, including Bill Baxter and Brian Stoehr, and Catch Surf East Coast Sales Manager Ryan Savage will get a chance to show them to some good ol’ Sussex County hospitality, after having already joined them on tour stops down the coast.
The spring bluefish-fest may be long over, but there’s still plenty of fish to be had for local anglers looking to cast off.
“The fishing’s good,” said Butch Evans, owner of Old Inlet Bait & Tackle at the Indian River Inlet. “They’re catching everything that they’re supposed to be catching this time of the year. There’s no shortage.”
With tautog season right around the corner — set to open on Friday, July 17 — summer flounder, croakers and striped bass are just a few types of the usual suspects lurking in local waters, but there’s been some not-so-usual suspects out there, as well.
In fact, just last Sunday, one a juvenile hammerhead was seen being reeled in at Conquest Road. As is the case every summer, other sharks have also been seen being caught in the surf.
“On the surf, they’re catching some kingfish and some croaker and some sharks and skates, so I’m told,” said George Fisher of Hook’em and Cook’em Outfitters in South Bethany.
The ’Birds are back in town, hosting Lexington and Greensboro for a six-game homestand that started on Tuesday, July 14, and will span through Monday, July 20.
After dropping three straight games on the road against Hagerstown, Delmarva managed to bounce back on Saturday, July 11, and Sunday, July 12, with wins of 6-2, and 3-1.
I kept expecting Todd Fuhrman to pull up driving the Indian River gator last Tuesday. There was softball. There was more than one game to cover. And Point photographer Chris Clark couldn’t help me shoot because of some kind of Seacrets Senior Citizen Day, or something or another. It was, more or less, exactly like spring.
The Lower Sussex Major League softball team is headed to the state championship for a third consecutive year.
While their titles have come at different levels, the core group of this year’s squad clinched their third District III championship under head coach Alicia Bomhardt with an 8-1 win against Nanticoke on Wednesday, July 7.
“They’re all thrilled. They really are a special group,” said Bomhardt of the girls’ accomplishment and continued success. “[LSLL President] Tracey [Littleton] has really focused in the last five years on building this softball program again. He’s done such a good job, and it shows — Lower Sussex really is a force in District III.”
Wednesday’s championship game went scoreless through two-and-half innings, until first-baseman Morgan Bomhardt ended the stalemate with an RBI-single in the top of the third. Pitcher Sierra Livington would knock in two more runs on a line drive, to make it 3-0, with RBI singles from DH Sydney West and outfielder Ursula Barrientos pushing the lead to 5-0 before the inning was through.
The count was a full count. The bases were loaded. And the Junior League Softball District III championship was on the line.
But when Lower Sussex Junior League head coach Mike Patille went out to the mound to talk to pitcher Abby O’Shields, he didn’t mention any of that. Instead of pitch counts or strike zones or even the batter, they talked about ice cream.
“When they were 10 years old, I would come out to the mound and ask them what kind of ice cream they want after the game,” explained Mike Patille. “It takes the pressure off — they all laugh.”
The old ice-cream speech proved successful once again, as O’Shields regained her composure and got a Millsboro batter to line a shot to center, where outfielder Airelle Parker made the snag and the girls clinched the District III championship.
The Fenwick Island Beach Patrol got some new guards last month, when a group from Penn-Mar Human Services made the trip from Towson for a Junior Lifeguard session.
The support-services group for individuals with special needs or disabilities participated in the session for the second year in a row, learning semaphore and how to save someone using a rescue buoy, and getting some one-on-one time with the guards.
“The lifeguards were exceptional with them,” said Penn-Mar representative Vicki Hineline. “They love it. They couldn’t wait to go again this year.”
The Penn-Mar group consisted of Susie Diffenderffer, Chris McCarron and David Hahn, who joined FIBP Capt. Tim Ferry and guards Josh Strine, Andy Reiz and Tim Roberts, who volunteered to help out with the event.
“I’m good family friends with the Diffenderffers, so I wanted to do it,” Roberts said of how he got involved. “I knew that Susie really enjoyed it last year, so I wanted to be a part of it this year. We had a really good time — lots of smiling faces.”
Swim Ocean City and SUPCUP are back for a third consecutive year, bringing 1-, 3- and 9-mile ocean swims and 2- and 4-mile standup paddleboarding races to Maryland’s beaches this Saturday, July 18.
The now-annual event is open to the public and will include two different divisions of standup paddleboard, in an effort to help raise funds for the Johns Hopkins Brain & Stroke Rehabilitation Program.
“After an electrical injury caused me to suffer from fatigue and pain, I was referred to many doctors, but I never seemed to make much progress,” said Asher Collins, a former patient of the program. “I was referred to Dr. Bechtold, and am able to function better cognitively and work within my fatigue limitations now because of the level of care given to me.”
While contributing to the cause is, of course, an important to those who have participated in the event in the past, the races are also a reward in themselves.
First he saved us from the great white Septima during Shark Week. Then, he rivaled the incomparable Liam Neeson to save us from a “The Grey”-type scenario during coyote hunting season.
Spring volleyball camps have recently come to end, but everything is just beginning for girls trying out for the first-ever Selbyville Middle School volleyball team.
While interested players have tested their skills at camps held at SMS in both the fall and spring for nearly the past decade, the school has never been able to establish an official team for competitive play — until now.
“We were ecstatic, it’s been a long journey,” said long-time club organizer and new SMS head volleyball coach Sally Craig on finally getting the program off the ground. “[The girls] were jumping up and down for joy, they’re so excited.”
That long journey saw its means to an end, or perhaps its beginning, when the Indian River School Board approved middle school girls’ volleyball programs for not only Selbyville Middle School, but Georgetown and Millsboro middle schools, as well.
Field hockey in lower Sussex County was as good as dead.
Indian River High School had gone through winless seasons. So had Sussex Central. There were countless coaching changes, no feeder programs, and as a result, not much hope, either.
Enter Jodi Stone and Molly Chamberlin — Stone the new head coach at Indian River and Chamberlin a former player for the Indians, turned coach at Millsboro Middle School — who knew they had to do something before the sport faded away for good.
“When I was at Indian River, we were a winning team,” Chamberlin recalled. “Then I went away to college and kept hearing about how the program was dying. I came back to coach and just wanted to do something about it.”
“Sussex Central was a powerhouse when I first moved here. Indian River was a powerhouse for years,” added Stone, who took over as head coach of the Indians in 2013. “Unfortunately, in this pocket of Sussex County, it’s kind of dying if somebody doesn’t take a step forward to promote it.”
They’ll be traveling from all across the nation.
From Maryland and D.C. high-school lacrosse powerhouses such as Calvert Hall of Maryland and Georgetown Prep in D.C., up to hotbeds in New York and stretching all the way out to emerging programs in California.
But the only rising junior from Delaware suiting up for the Top 50 Uncommitted Showcase at the Under Armour All America Classic this Saturday will be none other than Indian River High School’s George Martin.
“Obviously, it’s gonna be high-level,” said Martin of his expectations for the game. “These are the guys who haven’t really been seen by the coaches yet. I think this is their opportunity — everyone’s gonna be trying to make something happen.”
If there’s any such thing as home-field advantage in skimboarding, local skimmers had it on Wednesday, June 24, at the Alley-Oop Skim League contest held on the Main Street beach in Bethany Beach.
The first of three events with stops scheduled up and down the Delaware coast, the contest is open to skimboarders of all ages and skill levels, including beginner, intermediate and advanced.
“Alley-Oop’s been involved with and running skimming contests in Delaware for probably about 15 years, but this Skim League is pretty much a new event for us,” explained Alley-Oop owner and Zap Skimboard Ambassador Jason Wilson.
“It’s aimed at amateur competitors that want to practice for some of the bigger events that we run — kids that maybe are a little bit intimidated by some of the bigger championships. This gives them an opportunity to try a contest in a lighter atmosphere.”
The Delmarva Shorebirds made it back to a .500 record this week when they came out of the All-Star break to start the second half of the season 4-2.
At 37-37 overall on the season (as of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, July 1), the ’Birds were 10 games behind Hickory in the South Atlantic League Northern title race headed into matchups against Lakewood.
Ah, the “Madden curse.” Every year, it’s the same story. But even though the media usually blows it out of proportion, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t played a video game since I got my driver’s license, every year it still seems to strike again.
He hadn’t suited up for more than six months. He had spent years going up against players that he would now call teammates. And — oh, yeah — he was still getting back to health after shoulder surgery.
But when the first whistle sounded at the 60th annual Blue-Gold All-Star game on Saturday, June 20, none of that mattered to recent Indian River grad and football standout Spencer Sturla.
“I adjusted pretty well,” Sturla said to his role as both an offensive and defensive tackle. “My shoulder really kept up with me, the whole week and even throughout the game — I just fought through it.”
And “fighting through it” is exactly what he did.
After getting the start at defensive tackle for the Gold team, Sturla was called upon in the second half to take over at offensive tackle, as well, as they battled the Blue team in a defensive deadlock that went down to the game’s final minutes.
The Firecracker 5K has enjoyed steady success since it launched seven years ago, and this Sunday the 5K run and 3K walk looks to be just as popular as ever.
“It was started to celebrate the great Fourth of July traditions in Bethany Beach,” explained race director Greg Mavraganis. “Now in year seven, I think it’s one of Bethany’s signature events.”
Starting out with 200 participants, the race grew to encompass 425 registered runners last summer, and Mavraganis said that they’re hoping to see an even larger turnout this Sunday, with the possibility of upwards of 500 racers.
“We’ve enjoyed steady growth in participation during our first six years,” he said. “Our goal is to host an event that’s enjoyable for people of all ages.”