Mace and Miller homer in Smyrna softball victory

GEORGETOWN — Sara Miller wasn’t looking to hit a home run.

After a minor adjustment in the batter’s box, she just waited for her pitch and drove it.

It just so happened to sail over the outfield wall.

The Smyrna High senior’s two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning extended her team’s lead to three runs and helped the Eagles defeat Henlopen North foe Sussex Tech High, 5-2.

“I know she attacked me up and in to get us all, the whole team, to pop-up,” Miller said of Tech pitcher Taylor Wroten. “And I knew what she was going to do, so I backed off the plate, let it get deep and I drove it.”

Miller finished 2-for-4 with three runs batted in at the plate.

“I never go for a home run, but I knew what I wanted to attack,” she added.

Fellow senior Abigail Mace hit a solo home run over the centerfield fence in the previous inning and finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs batted in at the plate.

That makes five home runs in two games for Smyrna’s lineup, with two coming off the bat of Mace.

“I’ve been really working hard on pitch selection and just driving my pitch,” she explained. “I just had a good pitch to hit.”

Sophomore Payton Dixon tossed a complete game for the Eagles (2-0), striking out three batters and surrendering just one earned run.

“It was hard, but I knew I just had to keep my head in it and do my best as I always do,” said Dixon. “I just know I can trust my team through it all.”

“For Payton coming in, she knew her defense had her back, so I think she did feel a little bit relaxed knowing she could throw the ball in there and they would have her back,” said Smyrna coach Nicki Shirey.

“But still, it’s a lot of pressure for a sophomore and she did really well today.”

Senior Taylor Wroten threw a complete game in the pitcher’s circle for the Ravens (1-1), striking out six batters. She also picked up a couple of base hits as Sussex Tech’s leadoff hitter.

“Taylor is amazing,” Miller said of the opposing pitcher. “She’s really good and we’ve seen her before, so we knew that we had to make adjustments, especially after our first at bat.”

“We had to make a lot of adjustments,” said Mace. “We’ve been practicing hard and we knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew that they’re really good coming in.”

Both teams combined for 18 hits, with six different Eagles registering at least one hit and four Ravens recording at least two hits.

“These girls put in a lot of work on their hitting,” Shirey said. “These girls have been together for a really long time, they’ve been working on it since their freshman year and building it up to this point, so the confidence level at the plate is really high.”

Both teams exchanged early runs in the first inning.

Smyrna shortstop Lexi Moore, who finished 3-for-4, led off the game with a single and later came around to score on a Miller RBI double to right field.

The Ravens answered in the bottom half of the inning when senior centerfielder Jakayla Sample drove in junior third baseman Kylie Kruger on an RBI single.

Wroten retired the first two Smyrna hitters in the top of the second inning on consecutive pitches before forcing a ground-out in the third at bat to complete the one, two, three inning.

The second and third innings were scoreless for both teams, before Mace’s solo homer to lead off the top half of the fourth inning put the Eagles ahead for good.

Miller’s homer with one down in the fifth put the Eagles ahead 4-1.

The Ravens cut into the lead in the bottom half of the fifth, with right fielder Sierra Livingston driving in catcher Kelsey Kormanik after reaching base on an error by the shortstop.

Kayla Wilson scored an insurance run for Smyrna in the top of the seventh inning, advancing home on a Mace ground out to first base to round out the day’s scoring.

Dixon came back out in the bottom of the inning to retire the Ravens in order and preserve the three-run victory.

“This game today felt like a championship game itself, it was crazy,” Miller said. “The energy was crazy. Our team, the energy was up and everything and the other team was doing the same thing.”

“Every game will be like this, you can’t take anybody lightly,” said Shirey. “Every year it’s like that, no matter what team loses how many seniors, everybody’s going to come out tough. We’re just going one game at a time.”

Staff writer Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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