It was a game of attrition warfare May 31, as Caravel and Central battled for 11 tough innings before the Bucs squeaked out a 1-0 victory to win the 2021 DIAA softball state championship.
Central freshman pitcher Madge Layfield threw like a much older veteran in the circle, ending the 2021 campaign with 22 strikeouts and only six hits allowed. She now holds the DIAA strikeout record as a freshman hurler in a state final.
Caravel’s senior pitcher Jessica Walter garnered the victory, allowing seven hits and no runs while striking out 10 batters.
The game was filled with Sportscenter-worthy moments, as both teams showed their defensive prowess, snagging line drives and making diving catches.
In the 11th, Caravel sophomore Veronica Diomede doubled on a 1-1 pitch. She scored two batters later when sophomore Brooke Holdsworth doubled to center.
Central’s Kate Evick singled in the bottom of the 11th and went to second on an error. She moved to third on a single by Mya Jones, who then stole second to put runners on second and third with no outs. Aryanna Briddell lined out. McKenna Boye tried to squeeze bunt, but the runner on third was held. A ground out ended the Knights’ rally attempt.
“It was kinda nerve-racking,” Walter said. “I had total confidence in my defense. We played well all year and we have great chemistry. I had confidence that every ball that was put into play we were going to get an out. This was definitely a marathon, but well worth it.”
“Every inning put the lead-off on base,” said Caravel coach Randy Johnson. “I thought if we get out of this, we deserve to win something. We have fought hard to play good defense. You can’t always, but we fight for it. It showed today. It was a big difference in the game. It’s pretty awesome. We’ve had a tough road. We went through a stretch when we had our pitcher out for injury, our catcher out for injury, third base out for injury. We were like ‘Dang, are we going to even be able to play later?’ To get everybody back into it and go full tilt, it was awesome.”
Diomede led the Bucs at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double in the game. Holdsworth slammed a double and knocked in the only run. Morgan Moxley, Haley Grygo and Riley Maloney each had a hit.
Mya Jones went 2-for-5 for the Knights. Aryanna “Pinky” Briddell garnered a double. Evick, Takyla Davis and Kaylee Verosko each had a single.
“It was a very disappointing loss,” said Central’s McKenna Boyle. “But we win as a team and lose as a team. We will come back stronger next year and work even harder to win the chip. I wish the seniors best of luck in college and can’t wait to see what they achieve.”