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.