No. 14 Lake Forest upsets host No. 3 Central 7-5 in softball tourney

GEORGETOWN — Mya Maddox didn’t initially know what had happened.

So, the Lake Forest junior just kept running.

With No. 14 Lake Forest trailing host Sussex Central by a run in the top half of the fifth inning, Maddox came to the plate with a pair of runners on and two outs. She ripped what initially appeared to be a RBI single to center that plated junior Ashley Hurd and tied the game.

Right behind Hurd, however, freshman Grace Aguilar rounded third. The throw from Central center fielder Kasie Simpson beat Hurd to the plate but bounced away from Knights senior catcher Chelsey Ward and to the fence, allowing Aguilar to score the go-ahead run.

While retrieving the ball from the backstop, Ward went down with an injury, which allowed Maddox to cross the plate as well.

When all was said and done, the Spartans (13-6) led 5-3. They never trailed again, defeating No. 3 Sussex Central 7-5 and advancing to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. second round game at No. 6 Concord.

“I ran with my head up, and I looked at my coach and she was saying ‘go,’” said Maddox, who would later double and score an insurance run for the Spartans in the seventh. “I saw my girl Gracie go before me and I thought ‘why is she going?’ Then I saw the catcher down and thought ‘I’m gonna go too then.’”

Lake scored what turned out to be the eventual winning run an inning later when Brooke Glanden blasted a line drive home run over the fence in center.

It was the sophomore’s second home run of the game. Her first homer came in the opening inning – a two-run shot that temporarily put the Spartans in the lead.

“Coming into the tournament, I knew I was going to see a lot outside and a lot of spin pitches,” Glanden said. “So I made my adjustments this week at practice and I was ready to go. I was feelin’ it. Every home run is a great feeling, knowing that it’s over and you scored more runs for your team.”

Central answered in the home half of the first frame with three runs of its own.

Senior Karleigh Warren’s two-RBI bases loaded single and a one-run double from classmate Brooke Stoeckel provided the scoring.

With the help of their respective defenses, Lake starter Kaitlyn Stahre and Central’s Hayley McCabe settled down from there, with neither allowing another run until the Spartans broke through in the fifth on the Maddox single. Stahre didn’t allow another run until the bottom of the seventh when sophomore Morgan Burton lifted a two-run homer over the fence in left-center and cut the Spartans’ lead to two – where it stayed.

Behind them, Warren and Maddox played exceptional defense with the former even turning a rare groundball double play from shortstop and the latter accounting for six putouts in center, including two with diving stabs.

“All of our girls gave 100 percent, it just took a little while for them to settle down,” said Lake Forest coach Ashlie Tatman. “We haven’t played in two weeks. I’m just glad they were able to come together.”

Both teams entered the contest on playoff droughts. The Spartans were making their first tournament appearance since 2011, while Sussex Central had missed the last two postseasons – a rarity for the Knights.

Although the playoff appearance didn’t last as long as he had hoped, Central coach John Wells told his team he was proud of its efforts during a 14-4 campaign.

“They’re great kids and had an awesome season,” he said. “Lake was a tough draw for the three seed. They are arguably the best hitting team in the state. Definitely better than a 14-seed.”

Jeff Mitchell covers sports for southern Delaware. You can reach him at jmitchell@newszap.com

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