District III finishes third in Senior League Softball World Series

-District III poses with its plaque after finishing third, out of 10 teams, in the 2018 Senior League Softball World Series. (Delaware State News/Ben Heck)

ROXANA — District III finished the 2018 Senior League Softball World Series just as they started it: by defeating the U.S. East squad from Worcester, Massachusetts.

With a 5-1 win over U.S. East in Sunday morning’s consolation game, the Sussex County squad capped the 2018 series with a third-place finish and a 6-1 record over the seven-day tourney at Lower Sussex Little League in Roxana.

“I think it was good for us to be able to come out and finish strong,” said starting pitcher Taylor Wroten. “We played this team before and blew them out, but they put up a really good fight today.”

Wroten finished the tournament by tossing every pitch from the pitcher’s circle for the second year in a row, finishing the seven games with a 1.07 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 53.0 innings pitched.

Ryleigh Elliott finished Sunday’s consolation game by going 3-for-4 with a run scored. (Delaware State News/Ben Heck)

A hard-fought 2-1 loss to U.S. Southwest, from Waco, Texas, in Saturday night’s semifinal showdown is what set the defending District III squad up in the tourney’s consolation game.

Southwest would go on to fall to Asia-Pacific, from Batangas, Philippines, 7-0, in Sunday afternoon’s title game. Asia-Pacific pitcher Royevel Palma tossed a two-hit shutout, striking out 15 batters in the championship victory.

For the District III girls, who won it all in 2017, Wroten tossed seven innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts to close out the team’s sixth win of the week.

District III’s bats provided nine hits, including a three-hit day from Ryleigh Elliott, and a pair of hits from Kylie Kruger and Hadlie Jarvis. Kelsey Kormanik and Kayla Evans had one hit each.

“After the loss (Saturday) night it’s tough to get up and play this morning, but we all just came with energy,” said Elliott.

“We still wanted to win, we still wanted to have fun and it was our last game playing with some of these people so that was good.”

From left, District III teammates Kayla Evans,, Kelsey Kormanik and Jordyn DiFava share hugs after wrapping up the seven-day tournament Sunday afternoon. (Del;aware State News/Ben Heck)

“We played as a team every single game and if we didn’t do that, we would not have won all those games — especially that Southwest game on Tuesday,” said Kruger. “We went 12 innings and it was the same score (Saturday) night, but if we didn’t play as a team we wouldn’t have done so well this week.”

District III didn’t waste any time getting on the board, plating the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning off a Sierra Livingston sacrifice fly, scoring Elliott.

East answered in the top half of the second inning, putting up its lone run of the game on a Paige Hubacz RBI single to tie the game 1-1.

Southwest pitcher Kennedy Parker covers the plate on an overthrow in the third inning but the throw was too late to keep Joyce Rasco from Asia-Pacific from scoring in the finals of the Senior League Softball World Series. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Kruger doubled in Siera Jones in the bottom of the third inning and would then advance to third base on the throw to the infield. An overthrow on the play, which put the ball out of play, would allow Kruger to come around to score to put District III ahead 3-1.

They never relinquished the lead.

Evans drove in Kormanik and Jarvis scored on an East fielding error in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend the District III lead to 5-1 and cement the third-place finish.

“I think we were down a little bit in our energy and the way that we normally play, but overall I think that we all came back with a fight,” said Wroten of the bounce-back win.

For some girls on manager Craig Kormanik’s squad, this marked the final game they would be eligible to play Little League ball.

Asia-Pacific’s Jeelyn Pajotal advances from first to third base on a single to right field but smashes into the knee of Southwest’s Beronica Delosrios. She was safe on the play but suffered cuts to her lip and tongue and was able to stay in the game. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“It was just an amazing opportunity,” said Jordyn DiFava, who wrapped up her Little League career on a high note. “Some girls only have the opportunity to come here once, but we had the pleasure of doing it two times and it was just an amazing team effort the whole entire week.

“Every time someone was up to bat, or in the field, we could count on anybody at any given time and everyone just played amazing. We stayed focused and played our hearts out — it just didn’t play out the way we wanted it to, but it’s OK.”

For Kruger, who hopes to make a return to the Georgetown/Cape squad in 2019, the third-place finish will act as motivation for next summer.

“Yes, I think this will be motivation, especially losing some of our starters, like Taylor and Jordyn,” she said. “The younger girls were a big part of our team and they filled in spots when we needed them to.”

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