CR’s Burton shines as Gold softball stars win

DOVER — In an all-star game like this, they’re just playing for fun, of course.

But when it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, one team is clinging to a one-run lead and the bases are loaded, those competitive instincts still kick in.

“That instinct of wanting to win definitely came into place,” said Cape Henlopen High pitcher Riley Shields.

So it was actually with a little bit of drama that Gold shortstop Kendra Ziemba of Hodgson raced back into short leftfield to snare a line drive and preserve the Gold’s 6-5 victory in the Blue-Gold All-Star Softball Game on Thursday night.

The Blue had already scored twice in the ninth and still had the bases loaded with only one out. But Shields got a strikeout for the second out before Ziemba made the nice running catch on a ball hit by Middletown’s Sarah Adkins for the final out.

“We were thinking that it was going to fall in and we would have a chance to at least tie it up,” said Lake Forest’s Ashlie Tatman, one of the Blue coaches. “But the girl that was playing short (Ziemba) has really good range and grabbed it.”

“Your heart just stops,” the Gold’s Rosa’lynn Burton said with a smile. “You still want to win.”

Burton, of Caesar Rodney, was named the Gold MVP. The third baseman used her speed to spark the Gold’s 11-hit attack, reaching base three times with two hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored.

In the fourth inning, Burton reached base on a bunt single, stole second and then came all the way home when she tagged up on a flyball and the Blue committed a throwing error.

Then, in the sixth, Burton beat out an infield single and scored all the way from first on a two-run single from Padua’s Kierstin Fallers.

“I started running and I said, ‘Well, I don’t think I’m going to stop anyway,’” said Burton, who will play for former CR coach Mike Shehorn at Wilmington University next year. “I might as well get on my high horse. I just go all out.

“You hit it on the dirt and you start running — that’s all I know,” she added.

Trailing 1-0, the Gold tied the contest in the third when CR’s Mirabella Klebart walked and eventually scored when Sussex Tech’s Sarah James lined an RBI single to left.

Sussex Tech’s Taylor Collins scored on a fielder’s choice in the fifth before the Gold opened up a 6-2 advantage with three runs in the sixth.

Fallers’ two-run single was the big hit in the inning which was capped off by an RBI double from Polytech’s Whitney DeMora.

James, who scored a run in the sixth, allowed only one run while pitching the first four innings for the Gold.

Shields picked up where James left off, taking a 6-3 lead into the ninth. In one stretch Shields retired seven straight batters.

But, in its final at-bat, the Blue strung together singles from Brady Keeler (Woodbridge), Ky’Lesha Neal (Indian River), Blue MVP Lauren Maichle (Delaware Military) and Daniela Solis (Wilmington Christian) to mount its comeback.

Shields, who struck out four, hung tough, however. Drama or not, she said she enjoyed the experience.

“I just wanted to get people out and the rest would fall into place,” Shields said about the ninth. “Both teams did great. It was definitely a lot of fun. Meeting new girls and playing with them was definitely a great experience.

“Everyone was saying before the game, we didn’t want to lose our last high school softball game. It’s definitely nice to get that win.”

“I didn’t really know most of the girls on the team so it was pretty cool meeting them for the first time and seeing their skill set,” said Lake Forest’s Tatman. “There’s a lot of talented girls on this team and the Gold team, as well. I just think it was a very fun evening for a lot of the girls to come together and play one last time.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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