FROM THE SPORTS EDITOR: Milton takes another shot at Series dream

Milton coach Trey Isaacs tells his team to keep playing hard during break between innings in Thursday night’s state title game against Newark National. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Paris Mitchell has a lot of things on his mind right now.

But the Milton Little League baseball manager says ‘Williamsport,’ really isn’t one of them.

The only thing Mitchell knows is that he’s got to get his squad up to Bristol, Connecticut and ready to play by next weekend.

The promised land of Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the Little League World Series will have to remain just a dream for now.

“You have to stay in the moment,” said Mitchell, “because there’s a lot that has to be done in order just to go to this regional tournament.

“There’s fundraising that must be done, there’s all kinds of questionnaires that must be filled out for ESPN, there’s lodging. … it’s a whirlwind. You try to make yourself stop and just enjoy it for a little bit because there’s so much that has to be done.

“You’re so busy and just trying to take care of what you have to do for Bristol, I haven’t heard a whole lot of talk about Williamsport.”

Milton’s Frank Fuscellaro slides under the tag of Newark National third baseman Bob Stewart on Thursday night. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

There’s a lot to like about this Milton squad.

The team from the small Sussex County league will be making its third straight appearance in the Mid-Atlantic Regional when it faces Maryland on Aug. 5 at 4 p.m. in Bristol.

And the reward for the team that wins the regional is immense. Thanks to ESPN, the Little League World Series has grown into arguably the most popular youth sporting event in the world.

It’s also a really, really tough thing to get to.

Just two Delaware squads — Naamans (2003) and Newark National (2013) — have ever played in Little League’s World Series for 11-12 year olds.

All that being said, Mitchell said his players have at least one thing going for them — confidence. And, after seeing the way Milton competed in Bristol the last two years, he thinks they should.

“Probably what you take away more than anything else is just the idea that you belong,” said Mitchell, who also managed last year’s Milton squad. “When you come from a town of this size, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Do you really belong in one of these regional tournaments?’

“You don’t know anything about the other teams. You just assume they’re bigger and better than you are. (But) the past two years have proven that Milton teams absolutely belonged.”

Milton’s Luke McCarthy is tagged out by Newark National catcher Eli Myers after he tried to score from second on a single. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

As proof, Mitchell points to Milton’s first-ever Mid-Atlantic regional game, in 2016. The downstaters fell to New York just 1-0 on a sixth-inning home run.

When New York ended up winning the World Series, Mitchell said that year’s team couldn’t help but think they could compete with anybody.

“We always kind of go back to that,” said Mitchell. “It was just the idea that we belong. It comes down to whoever plays better on that day. It’s not about what state you’re from, it’s about what kind of baseball you’re playing.”

Milton has a combined record of only 2-4 in its two Mid-Atlantic appearances. But it has also been outscored just 25-22 and hasn’t lost any game by more than four runs.

Right now, though, baseball is just one of the things Mitchell is focused on.

He also tries to remember that there are a lot of people who have had a hand in Milton’s memorable run.

“People don’t realize how much goes into it,” said Mitchell, a teacher at Georgetown Middle School. “One of the questions the other night was ‘What’s fostered this success here lately?’

“I said, everybody sees the finished product with these kids running around playing some good baseball. But it starts with an awful lot of volunteers just sending out notices that it’s time for signups back in February — and running tryouts and filling board positions and getting fields ready. …

“It’s a lot. It takes a community, it’s not just 13 kids on a team.”

CR’s McCullough transfers

Jada McCullough, Caesar Rodney High’s up-and-coming two-sport athlete, is transferring to Caravel Academy.

McCullough played varsity on both the Riders’ girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer teams as a freshman last school year.

This summer, McCullough has been playing summer-league basketball with the Buccaneers’ basketball team, hitting six three-pointers in a recent game. She also went to camp with Caravel’s soccer squad.

The Bucs have made the state finals in girls’ hoops three times in the last five seasons while capturing four of the past five state titles in Division II girls’ soccer.

Odds & ends

•Dover High offensive lineman Bradly Anyanwu announced on Twitter this week that he’s verbally accepted a scholarship from Delaware. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound guard will be a senior for the Senators this fall.

He joins teammate quarterback/defensive back Jordan Magee who committed to Temple in the spring.

•Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest, Sussex Tech and Woodbridge High were among 17 schools statewide which were presented with the DIAA’s Dale Farmer Sportsmanship Award.

Schools receive the award by meeting 10 standards designed to “measure the school community’s commitment to the educational nature of interscholastic athletics.”

•Caden Dickerson (Seaford), Jack Faust (Sussex Academy) and Grace Sekcinski (Milford) were part of a group of six Delaware high school students who attended the NFHS Student Leadership Summit in Indianapolis last week.

The three students will also join 25 other students at the DIAA Student Leadership Conference, which will be held in Lewes from August 3-5.

•The Delaware football team opens preseason camp on Wednesday with a 2:15 p.m. session. The Blue Hens start the season on Aug. 30 by hosting Rhode Island.

•The new version of the Philadelphia 76ers’ G League Delaware team — the Delaware Blue Coats have scheduled three open tryouts. The sessions are slated for Sept. 1 (Hockessin PAL); Sept. 8 (McGonigle Hall, Temple University); and Sept. 15 (Bollman Center, Albright College).

Online registration is available at https://sixers.formstack.com/forms/open_tryout_registration.

•Special Olympics Delaware is hosting two sessions of its annual summer camp on Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 12-14 at Camp Barnes in Frankford. Approximately 110 Special Olympics Delaware athletes and 70 volunteer counselors are scheduled to attend.

•While Delaware State hired its new men’s basketball coach this week — UMBC assistant Eric Skeeters — the school still needs to bring in a women’s basketball coach. Like the men’s job, the Hornet women’s coaching job opened up on Feb. 22.

Sports editor Andy Walter
can be reached at 741-8227
or walter@newszap.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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