District III ends pool play undefeated at softball World Series

ROXANA — District III came out inspired in Thursday afternoon’s pool-play showdown against Asia-Pacific.

The Sussex County squad plated five runs in the first inning on its way to an 8-4 victory in the Senior League Softball World Series.

With the win, District III wraps up pool play with a 4-0 record to grab the top seed in Pool A heading into today’s quarterfinal round.

Defending champion District III plays today at 8 p.m. against the Pool B fourth seed at Lower Sussex Little League.

“The girls were pumped up,” said District III manager Craig Kormanik. “They knew Asia-Pacific was going to be a highly-talented team with good pitching, so — to make a long story short — they were ready for it.

“It’s contagious. Once one girl does well it seems like everyone else follows, so it was a good inning — a real good inning.”

“It’s definitely a confident-booster for us,” said starting pitcher Taylor Wroten. “We just have to keep working, because we’re going to be the ones who everyone is gunning for.”

Offensively, the District III bats produced 12 hits from nine different players, including two-hit games from Ryleigh Elliott, Jordyn DiFava and Sierra Livingston.

“I’m so proud, from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup everyone really hit,” said Wroten.

“Our offense is definitely something that struggled the past couple of games — we did come out late in the last couple innings of the Latin America game — but I think we just really came out strong today.”

“It’s really nice to have a lineup that can hit all the way through, top to bottom,” Elliott said.

Wroten tossed her fourth consecutive complete game, striking out four batters and allowing four runs (three earned).

“We have 12 girls who are there for each other,” Kormanik said. “They have fun, I think that’s the biggest thing — these girls know how to have fun and when they have fun that’s when they’re playing their best.”

Elliott kick-started the five-run top of the first inning by reaching base on a hit-by-pitch. Livingston brought home her and DiFava on a two-run single.

Hadlie Jarvis followed with a two-run single of her own, scoring Livingston and Wroten to extend the lead to 4-0. Macy Layfield drove in Kelsey Kormanik with an RBI single to end the first half inning with a 5-0 advantage.

Elliott and Kylie Kruger each scored on an Asia-Pacific error in the top of the second to put District III ahead 7-0.

Asia-Pacific, determined to keep the score close, put a run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third off District III’s lone error of the game.

Three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning brought Asia-Pacific to within three runs. Dane Ashley Martinez brought in a run on an RBI double, Mae Langga scores on a wild pitch and Neelyn Pajotal scored on an RBI single.

Pajotal’s run would be the final run scored for Asia-Pacific, though, as Wroten bounced back and shut out Asia Pacific over the final three innings.

She retired nine of the 11 batters faced over those final three frames.

“Taylor always comes out on top with her best game, she doesn’t get down,” Elliott said. “So, if people put up three runs on her, we have her back and she’s confident enough to know that we’ve got her.”

“We’re all human, Taylor knows there’s going to be mistakes made out in the field and she also knows that the team has her back,” Kormanik said.

With last year’s lone loss of the tournament coming against Asia-Pacific — on the final day of pool play — District III was happy about this year’s result.

“Overall I think we did well in pool play this year,” Livingston said. “We have a good head start for bracket play and I think that’s important to have.”

District III, from Georgetown/Cape, still has to win three games in three days to capture the title.

“One pitch at a time, one out at a time, one run at a time,” Kormanik said. “All these teams here are all talented, I don’t care what their record shows. After pool play, people seem to step up a little bit, so that’s what we’re going to be prepared for.”

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