The Big League District 3 team may be a mix of players from throughout Sussex County, but it didn't take long for the girls to gel as they dominated the East Region champs 9-3 in the first game of the Big League World Series in Roxana.
Mykala Steele, a Sussex Central grad, pitched a complete game to earn the win, recording 12 strikeouts and allowing seven hits over seven innings.
"Mykala is a competitor. She's going to give you what she's got every pitch and every inning she goes out on that mound," said Manager Guy Wilkins. "She's got a big heart, and that means a lot."
Steele struck out at least two batters in each of the first four innings. She ran into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, when she gave up a two-run triple and RBI single.
But Steele didn't need to be lights out, because her offense produced more than enough runs in support. Karlie Smith, an Indian River senior, led the way, going 3-for-4 with a double and home run and six RBIs.
District 3 went down in order in the top of the first inning, but found the bats from then on.
"I think we all have jitters in the beginning because we're at home in front of everybody - family, friends - and we want to perform and do well." said Smith. "We did that, so I think the nerves should be out of our system."
After East cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Sussex responded in a big way. With runners on first and third, Smith stepped up to the plate and smashed a long home run over the center field fence.
Two innings later, District 3 plated three more insurance runs on an RBI double by Karlie Smith and a two-RBI double by Morgan Smith.
"As long as we keep good swings, I feel comfortable with them," Wilkins said. "I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to score nine runs in every game, but I feel comfortable with the kids I do have."
Cape's Tiara Duffy also got in the hit parade, notching a 2-for-3 night, using her speed to beat out a slow grounder to second base in the third inning. She scored three runs in the win.
"Tiara is a great kid. When she beats the ball into the ground, she's got a 50/50 shot at being safe because she's so fast," Wilkins said.
Duffy's Cape teammate Lexi Berger saw some action in right field as a late-inning substitute and finished 0-for-1 at the plate.
District 3 is back in action at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6, when it faces off with the USA Central team from South Bend, Ind. For complete schedule and results, go to www.bigleaguesoftballws.org.