Delmar tops Dover 13-6 in softball tournament opener

Delmar pitcher Logan Walls tags out Dover’s Jayla Davis at home during the first round of the softball state tournament Thursday at Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — For a few innings, Dover High’s softball team was living its state tournament dream.

After spotting Delmar the first five runs of the game, the Senators stormed back to lead by one going into the fifth inning of their first-round DIAA state tournament game on Thursday afternoon.

But the Wildcats have state tourney dreams of their own.

Ninth-seeded Delmar scored the final eight runs of the contest to pull away to a 13-6 victory over No. 8 Dover to spoil the Senators’ first appearance in the state tournament.

With the contest tied 6-6, the Wildcats put up three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh to earn a trip to top-seeded Caravel in Saturday’s second round. That contest will be played at 1 p.m.

For Delmar (14-5), Thursday’s victory avenged an 8-7 loss to Dover (15-4) last Friday.

Dover right fielder Makayla Morris catches a foul ball against Delmar during the first round of the softball state tournament at Dover.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Wildcats coach Wayne Massey. “We really focused on hitting the outside pitches this week in practice because we knew that girl (Dover freshman pitcher Lexi Dowdy) is a good pitcher.

“What I told the girls is, the tournament starts a four-game season. Everybody is 0-0 and anything can happen.”

Delmar still has players who were part of the 2017 squad that got hot in the tourney and reached the state finals before losing.

“They believe in themselves,” said Massey.

The Wildcats took the lead for good when Madison Lemon’s double to centerfield scored Jordan Moore from first. Delmar then finished things off in the seventh when eighth-grader Josie Hollamon belted a two-run homerun over the centerfield fence.

Lemon (5 hits, 5 runs, 2 RBI) and Hollamon (3 hits, 4 RBI) paced Delmar’s 16-hit attack. Autumn Boothe was also walked four times and scored three runs.

Delmar’s Jordan Moore hits to right field and scored a run because of a Dover error.

“They’re a veteran team,” Dover coach Gerald Jester said about the Wildcats. “They’ve been here and they know what it’s all about. They played well.”

As good as Delmar’s hitting was, however, it may been the Wildcats’ pitching that made the difference on Thursday.

The Wildcats lost starting pitcher Ashlyn Tapman to an injury last week.

Delmar used both junior Logan Walls and freshman Emma Czwalina against Dover. The two pitchers did walk seven and hit a batter.

But they also allowed just six hits and struck out 12. Czwalina, who had a tough inning against the Senators last week, shut them out over the last three innings on Thursday.

“She came in and threw strikes,” said Massey. “That’s the name of the game — make them hit their way on. She settled in well.”

Trailing 5-0 after the top of the second, Dover got back in the game with three runs in the bottom of the second, one in the third and two in the fourth.

Dover’s Hannah Lyons yells toward her dugout after being walked to score a Dover run with the bases loaded.

Junior Jayla Davis smacked a double off the fence to score Kaila Quick with the run that gave the Senators their 6-5 advantage.

Senior Ashlyn Davis contributed three of Dover’s six hits and scored a run with sophomore Chelsea Johnson adding two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Dowdy struck out six.

“It was probably a little bit of nerves in the beginning,” said Jester, whose team committed three errors. “They’ve never been on the big stage before. They were down 5-0 and they could have quit. But they battled back and took the lead.

“I take my hat off to Delmar. They battled right back and won the game.”

The good news for Dover is that most of the roster from its record-setting season is back next year.

“We’re looking forward to upcoming seasons,” said Jester. “I just told them I’m proud of them. It’s tough right now to see what they’ve done over the season. But, in a few months, the sting will wear off a little bit and they’ll be able to realze what kind of season we had.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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