By Kevin Eickman
This time there would be no drama, not against a usually competitive New York team that had consistently given Delaware District I a difficult time over the last two years. New York had been the only team to defeat District I in last year’s tournament and had battled them fiercely in the East Regional title game in that same tournament. In pool play this year, it took late inning heroics from Shaina Reed, driving in the game winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Prior to heading up to Worcester, MA, the District I Big League softball team knew that they were going to be in for a challenge. One of the first configurations that they faced was the reconfiguration of the tournament itself. With the two Pennsylvania teams ruled ineligible just prior to the start of the tournament, the tournament itself was changed from dual pool, to single pool format. Speaking with District I manager Ron Fry, he was disappointed with the way the change occurred.
“It was a shame that the two Pennsylvania teams didn’t get to play,” Fry said. “It was real tough to see the girls travel all that way, just to get sent home.” One of the stranger results of the change, was that each team would not face each other prior to the completion of pool play. As a result District I would not face off against the highly regarded host team, Massachusetts District IV in pool play. This resulted in the possible use of a run differential tie-breaker, which brought some rather large scores.
District I emerged from pool play with a 4-0 record, earning the top seed for the championship day. Their semi-final opponent was Massachusetts state champions District III. District I would score early and with Shaina Reed looking sharp, it appeared that District I would advance easily to the final. One mistake however was all it took to square matters however. In the top of the seventh, Reed gave up a solo shot and suddenly the Massachusetts champs were given new life. The Delaware offense would respond in the bottom of the inning, with Reed herself delivering the game winning RBI.
“We had an opportunity to get the run right back in the bottom of the inning,” said Reed. “I got a real good pitch to hit and just made contact.” With the game winning run in the bottom of the seventh, District I had advanced to their second consecutive east regional final.
As it was last year, District I would battle New York. Unlike last year however, the issue was never in doubt. From the start the District I offense was on fire, with Haylee Scruggs leading the charge with a 4-4 day. It was an offensive explosion that did not surprise coach Fry. “This team is quite capable of that type of hitting, the fact that they did it in the championship game against a team like that was really great to see.”
District I would go into an easy 12-3 victory and thereby book themselves a return trip to the World Series.