The softball girls from Milford won 12 straight games to earn a berth in the 2013 Senior League World Series. The Kent County squad drew host team Laurel, representing District 3 and Sussex County, in the first game of the World Series event.
Laurel, a mainstay in the tournament, showed why its automatic bid isn't indicative of lesser talent as it handed Milford its first loss of the tournament season Aug. 4, 4-1 on Layton Field at the Lower Sussex Little League complex in Roxana.
Regan Green overpowered the Milford batters at the plate, striking out 13 while allowing just four hits. Green tossed a perfect game in the state championship for Laurel High this spring and is considered one of the state's top pitchers. She'll be a junior this fall.
"You're really comfortable as a coach when you have Regan on the mound for you," said District 3 Manager Brad Lee, noting that Regan wasn't as sharp as normal. "Good, bad, indifferent; you feel good about it when you have her out there for you."
Green is one of five girls who was on the Laurel team that won the 2011 World Series. Lee's team did not lose a game the entire tournament that year, and, he said, getting a win in the first game was important.
"You always certainly want to start off with a win; it doesn't really matter how," he said. "I knew it was going to be a tight game. That's a good softball team on the other side, so we knew we were going to get their best shot."
Laurel scored a run in each of the first three innings to jump out to an early lead. Following an error in center field and a single, Green hit a fly ball just deep enough to score Gabby Culver in the first inning. Laurel perfected small ball in the second inning with a sacrifice bunt by Emily Pusey followed by a sacrifice fly by Savannah Brown to score Kortney Lee.
In the third, Sarah Jo Whaley doubled and scored on an RBI single by Culver. Brown knocked an RBI single in the sixth to round out Laurel's scoring.
Milford's lone run came in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Harley Rickards, scoring Megan Fry. Milford threatened for more runs in the inning, loading the bases with one out, but Green struck out the last two batters to eliminate the threat.
Haylee Scruggs tossed the first three innings for Milford, allowing three runs (only one earned) on four hits, and Brea MacFarland pitched the final four innings, giving up one run on five hits.
Despite the loss, Milford Manager Ron Fry was pleased with the way his team performed on the big stage.
"It was a big day for them," he said. "They had a lot of supporters, and they played well. I'm proud of them."
Fry said he's looking forward to a rematch with Laurel in the finals. Round robin play will conclude Thursday, Aug. 8. The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals Friday, Aug. 9. The championship game will be broadcast live on ESPN at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 10.
For a complete schedule and results, go to www.seniorsoftballws.org.