They started their season with a list of goals, and over the course of the past several weeks, the Delaware Tribe have checked off the boxes after accomplishing those goals.
Last weekend was their most recent success story, as they managed to win the program’s first-ever Eastern National softball tournament at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury, Md. The Tribe went 9-1 overall on the weekend, avenging an earlier loss to the Empire State Huskies with a 7-2 win in the championship.
“We went 9-1 in the tournament, and the team that put us into the loser’s bracket was the team we had to go back and beat in the championship,” head coach Sarah Hoban recalled. “And we did it… the long way.
Winning the tournament, she said, “was a huge accomplishment. It was a goal the team set at the very beginning of the season. We wanted to win a state tournament. We wanted to win a national tournament. We’ve been able to do both of those so far.”
The Tribe, who were competing in the top-tiered Open A Division, were pitted up against 12 other teams in their division. The tournament overall saw 38 teams from nine different states in action at the Parker Complex last weekend, scattered over the three divisions.
The Huskies had defeated the Tribe 8-2 during the early portion of bracket play, but the locals swept the two championship-round games of the double-elimination format with identical 7-2 wins.
The Tribe opened the tournament with a 14-1 win over the PA Rebellions. They followed that up with a 4-0 shutout of SWAT 14U out of Reading, Pa.
A 6-3 decision over the Heartbreakers opened up action on Day 2. The Tribe then flexed their collective muscles with an offensive beatdown of the Rhode Island Rebels to the tune of 11-1 in the back end of the day’s doubleheader.
By virtue of their unbeaten run through pool play, the Tribe earned a first-round bye in bracket play action, and only had one game on Day 3, making quick work of the Ohio Bandits with an 8-0 shutout victory.
Day 4’s action began with a nail-biting 9-8 decision over the Delaware Vipers Black. Then came the 8-2 loss to the Empire State Huskies that knocked the Tribe into the losers’ bracket.
The Tribe went into Day 5 knowing that they had to win three games if they wanted to take home the coveted Eastern National tournament championship, and they got things off to a good start with an 8-3 defeat of the Bombers Central PA team.
Then came the showdown with the Huskies, where the Tribe were out for revenge.
In the first game, the locals would take an early 2-0 lead after the top of the second inning. Ashlyn Ullman got things started with a leadoff single. Lily Hoban followed, reaching base with a one-out bunt after an error, which advanced Ullman to third. With runners on second and third, Kiersten Anderson drilled a ball into right field that scored both Ullman and Hoban for the 2-0 lead.
The Huskies got one of those runs back in their half of the second. They would then tie the score in the bottom of the fourth.
Jaya Shaub gave the Tribe a jolt of energy when she led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run over the leftfield wall. It would prove to be the game-winning run in the end.
The Tribe did add four more runs in the top of the seventh inning, thanks to some Huskies errors, but, more importantly, a huge two-run blast over the fence in centerfield, off the bat of Ashlyn Ullman.
It was on to the decisive championship finale, and the Tribe were carrying all the momentum with them. They would jump out to a 4-0 lead after just three innings. Kiersten Anderson lined a two-run single in the second inning that scored Ashlyn Ullman and Lily Hoban. In the bottom of the third, Kinsley Hall scored on a fielder’s choice, as did Shaniya Lewis in the same fashion later in the inning.
The Huskies would manage just single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, but it would prove to not be enough, as the Tribe put the final nail in the proverbial coffin with a three-run sixth inning to put the game away.
Kinsley Hall would finish the championship final with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, with two runs scored, while Jaya Shaub and Kiersten Anderson also chipped each with a pair of hits.
It was more than enough for Camryn Ehlers, who was just dealing in the circle. She threw just 79 pitchers in the final game, with 60 of those pitches going for strikes and only one of the two runs scored being earned.
“Our pitchers did a great job this weekend,” Hoban said of Ehlers and Kinsley Hall, who shared the pitching duties during the week. “They really shared the load and did a tremendous job. Kinsley had 20 strikeouts during her time. Camryn was really on during that championship game. She has just a quiet confidence about her. She had great focus out there, great poise.
“They both are just great leaders by example, and neither of them really ever seem to get rattled out there. They both defend their position so well, which is huge. It was really a combined effort by them this week.”
The team’s 9-1 record over the week at Eastern Nationals now has the Tribe’s record for the spring/summer season at 23-5-2 overall.
Following the tournament, the Tribe received word that two of their players had been recognized for their performances. Ashlyn Ullman was named the tournament’s Offensive MVP, with a team-best batting average of .652 to go along with 14 RBI. Kiersten Anderson was named the tournament’s overall MVP, with 10 RBIs, but it was her stellar defense that stood out the most. She had no errors over the 10 games, and her run-saving, diving catch in right field stood out.
“It was a potential game-saving, diving catch, because there were some runs that were going to score if she didn’t make that catch,” Hoban recalled.
Laniya Lewis also had an impressive showing at the tournament for the Tribe, batting over .460 with three home runs, which Hoban noted “all provided huge offensive momentum boosts. She’s been doing really well.”
“I was very pleased with our aggressiveness and the speed we showed on the bases was incredible,” Hoban continued. “We had 36 stolen bases for the tournament. Nine of those came from Shaniya Lewis.
“Shaniya gives us an element that not many teams aren’t afforded. We are very fortunate to have very good team speed overall. However, there’s fast, and then there’s Shaniya fast. She scored 12 runs for us overall with those nine stolen bases.”
Members of the Eastern National Regional championship team include Katie McHale, Arianna Cordrey, Lily Hoban, Camryn Ehlers, Jaya Shaub, Kiersten Anderson, Bailey Ullman, Aniyah Blake, Ashlyn Ullman, Cameron Knowles, Laniya Lewis, Kinsley Hall and Shaniya Lewis.
They are back in action this weekend in Snow Hill, Md., with another Eastern National showcase tournament, but this time they will be playing up in the 16U bracket. It appears that the Tribe will be the only Delaware team participating in this weekend’s action.