Laurel forces 2nd Major League softball state final vs. Camden-Wyoming

Laurel catcher Bailey Ullman throws to first base to make the out against Camden-Wyoming. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

SMYRNA — When Melea Pusey stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded, she just wanted to get a hit.

Pusey sent a two-out, fourth inning pitch to the outfield for a two-run double to break up the scoreless tie.

Her Laurel softball squad held on and picked up a 6-2 Major League softball state tournament win over Camden-Wyoming (1-1) Friday night at Smyrna-Clayton Little League.

“I just wanted to hit it, to be honest,” Pusey said. “I was like, ‘wow, how did I do that?’ I was literally shaking on the bases because I had never done that before, get the game started with a big hit like that.”

Camden-Wyoming’s Julia MacConnell hits a double against Laurel.

The win forces a second, winner-take-all championship game between these two squads tonight at 5 p.m.

The game will also be played at Smyrna-Clayton Little League, with the winner representing the state in the East Regionals in Bristol, Conn. next week.

“I told them just believe and play Laurel ball,” said manager James Shockley. “When we play Laurel ball, we’re hard to be beat. These girls have a lot of fire, so as long as they give it all they can we always get the same outcome.”

Paityn Blake tossed a complete game for Laurel, allowing just five hits with one strikeout in her six innings.

Chloe Donigan struck out five in her complete game for Camden-Wyoming.

“I came in thinking I just had to play my hardest,” said Blake. “I felt good about our whole team. It’s not just me who made this happen, it was all of our team. It was a total team effort.”

Laurel catcher Bailey Ullman throws to first base to make the out.

“That’s my little fireball,” Shockley said of Blake. “She’ll get in her zone out there and she’s almost untouchable when she gets in that zone.”

Laurel (2-1) collected eight hits, led by two each from Ashlyn Ullman and Keirsten Passwaters. Pusey, Blake, Bailee Ullman and Ryley McCluskey rounded out the hitting.

The two teams combined for just four hits through the first three innings, as Blake and Donigan battled it out in an early pitchers’ duel. The two pitchers stranded five runners on base.

Following Pusey’s two-run double to open the scoring in the fourth, Camden-Wyoming answered with a pair of its own runs in the top of the fifth to knot the game, 2-2.

Donigan led off the two-out rally with an RBI single to center field, scoring Macconnell. She later came around to score on an RBI double by Ciara Maldonado.

Laurel went ahead for good with a four-run fifth inning, which was sparked by a leadoff single from McCluskey.

Camden-Wyoming’s Chloe Donigan pitches against Laurel.

Baylee Lynch reached base on an error in the next at-bat, scoring McCluskey from second base to put the go-ahead run on the board.

Bailee Ullman extended the lead by driving in Lynch with an RBI single. Two at-bats later a Passwaters RBI double scored Ullman from first base. Passwaters scored on a passed ball to cap the rally.

“It’s the Laurel way,” said Shockley. “At the beginning of every game, I say, ‘where my dogs at?’ and they all respond, because they stick together as one team.”

“It just feels amazing, I don’t know how to explain it,” said Pusey. “We just need to work as a team and try our best tomorrow night.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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