The Delaware Technical Community College softball team is making a return trip to the NJCAA Division II Softball National Tournament after winning the NJCAA Region 19 and NJCAA Northeast District championships on May 17 in Georgetown.
“This feels great,” Head Coach Guy Wilkins said. “It’s the first time in a very long time that this program has won back-to-back district championships, and it’s a great accomplishment for the program and the school.”
The three-team tournament between Delaware Tech, Lackawanna College, and Mercer Community College was a combined region and district championship tournament after colleges in neighboring regions declined to participate in postseason play. Delaware Tech entered the tournament as the top seed.
Mercer County started off the tournament pulling off upset wins over Lackawanna and Delaware Tech on May 13 to advance to the championship game. Delaware Tech rebounded from the Mercer loss to eliminate Lackawanna with a 6-4 win on May 13.
The championship games were scheduled for May 14, but rain postponed the first game in the bottom of the first inning with Delaware Tech leading Mercer County 8-0. Play finally resumed on May 17.
Once play resumed, Delaware Tech was unstoppable. Over two games, starting pitchers Lauren Smith, a Snow Hill High School grad, and Carly Collins, a Sussex Central High School grad, allowed just 5 hits and no earned runs. Meanwhile, the offense exploded with 35 hits as Delaware Tech won the first game 14-1 and the second game 18-0.
“We hadn’t played in two weeks, and we hadn’t seen live pitching in two weeks before we played the first game when Mercer beat us,” Wilkins said. “Batting practice is totally different than seeing a ball out of a pitcher’s hands.
“Against Lackawanna we had better swings, and the day we got rained out we started progressing. Then the championship game showed how good our team really is as far as hitting.”
Delmarva Christian High School grad Kandice Schlabach batted a combined 6-for-8 with two 2-run home runs and 5 RBI. Milford High School grad Macey Myers also batted 6-for-8 with three doubles and 5 RBI, Caesar Rodney High School grad Jada Courtney batted 5-for-7 with two doubles and 4 RBI, Cape Henlopen High School grad Kaniah James batted 5-for-7 with 5 RBI, Sussex Central grad Kylie Kruger batted 5-for-8 with 4 RBI, and Laurel High School grad Logan Walls batted 5-for-9 with 5 RBI.
“They were all good hitters before they got here,” Wilkins said. “We make sure we hit a lot during practice to improve the hand eye coordination.
“Lauren and Carly work extremely hard during practice. They throw every other day, get good time in to work on their spins, and both of them throw strikes.”
Both pitchers are statistically the best in the region. Smith improves to 14-2 this year with a 1.89 ERA, while Collins has a 12-1 record with a 1.42 ERA.
Most of this year’s team was on the team last year when Delaware Tech went to the national tournament and won a game for the first time in program history.
“We have experience from last year, so we know what we are getting into,” Wilkins said. “I think that experience, and the better pitching we faced throughout the year, will help.
“I think we have a chance to make some noise.”
The 2022 NJCAA Division II Softball National Tournament takes place May 24-28 in Oxford, Ala.
Delaware Tech’s softball team won the NJCAA Region 19 and Northeast District championships on May 17 to earn a berth in the 2022 NJCAA Division II Softball National Tournament starting on May 24 in Oxford, Ala.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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