Sussex County locals could see from a world away that the District 3 Big League all-star team with an automatic entry into the World Series as the host team would be a contender for the title. The team was stacked with versatile frontline players, many of whom could pitch and play multiple positions and knock the cover off the baseball.
The biggest surprise after a week of play “down to Roxana” was that the Senior League District 3 team didn’t complete the daily double, but the team, mostly from Laurel, was upset by Italy in the semifinals 1-0.
In the Big League finals, Delaware, playing on ESPN, showed the nation what was up versus Puerto Rico, breaking up a 5-5 tie game by scoring six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run double by Kaitlyn Slater and a two-run homer from winning pitcher Mykala Steele to capture the World Championship 11-6.
Steele the pitcher hung tough after being touched for a two-run dinger that gave Puerto Rico a 5-3 advantage in the top of the third inning
Delaware got an early three-run homer off the bat of Cailey Isaacs for a 3-1 lead after one inning. Isaacs is on her way to Virginia Tech to play softball.
Puerto Rico came back with a four-run third inning highlighted by a two-run homer off the bat of Janiliz Rivera.
A surprise to no one who has seen her play was Alexis Burger of Cape, who went 3 for 4 in the championship game including two runs scored.
Early in the game Alexis was at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. She worked a full count and was called out on a “just a bit outside” pitch that had the ESPN announcers exclaiming, “That wasn’t even close!"
Tiara Duffy had a pair of hits, drove in a run and made a great sliding catch in the first inning, running into foul territory from her left field position.
The Delaware team had players from Sussex Central, Cape, Sussex Tech, Woodbridge, Del Tech, Indian River and Laurel.
Many of the girls have played travel ball together since they were 10 years old. Last June, Downstate won the Carpenter Cup and last week, the USSSA 18U national championship before ending the year with a Big League World Series championship.
Delaware defeated Texas (Southwest) 10-1 in their semifinal game to reach the final.
Notes: Manager Guy Wilkins was a pitcher on the 1981 Georgetown Senior League team that won the World Series. Delaware finished 6-0 in tournament play; the closest game was a 1-0 win over Asia-Pacific.