Sussex Tech earns state softball final, tops Lake Forest 4-1

GEORGETOWN — The ball was hit to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark as Lake Forest High watched, hoping it had extended its softball season by at least another half inning.

Meanwhile, Sussex Tech was wishing it would fall into one of two waiting gloves for a berth in the state championship game.

And freshman rightfielder Jakayla Sample was able to settle under it on the warning track, inches away from the fence for the Ravens to celebrate.

Lake Forest’s Brooke Glanden hit the ball a long way with two runners on and two out, but just missed the tying home run in the top of the seventh as the second-seeded Ravens defeated No. 14 Lake Forest 4-1 on Thursday in the DIAA state tournament semifinals.

“She just missed it just a little bit,” said Lake Forest coach Ashlie Tatman.

Sussex Tech returned to the state finals for the first time since the Ravens won it all back in 2012. They will face top seed Caravel Academy on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Milford High.

Lake Forest definitely made the Ravens sweat out the last couple of outs.

Catera Kennedy singled in the seventh and eventually scored when Mya Maddox doubled into centerfield with two outs. Katie Stahre kept the rally going with a hard shot to shortstop that was mishandled and Maddox moved to third.

Glanden came to the plate as the potential tying run and the lefty gave one a ride into the gap, but the ball had just a little too much loft on it, allowing it to fall short of clearing the fence.

While Sussex Tech’s freshman pitcher Taylor Wroten pitched herself out of the seventh-inning jam, what she did in the top of third was maybe even more impressive.

Wroten walked the first three batters to load the bases. Yet she somehow escaped the inning unscathed with the heart of the Spartan at the plate.

“I don’t know what happened I guess I wanted to scare everybody a little bit,” Wroten said with a laugh. “I scared myself, but we got out of it, my team helped me out and nobody scored so I’m really thankful.”

Wroten got the first out of the inning via a popout in foul territory before striking out the next two.

“I think I was rushing myself a little bit and I was worked up after I walked the first batter,” she said. “It got out of hand from there, but Shannon (Lord), my catcher, came out and talked to me and the whole team said to relax because they had my back and I think that really helped me out a lot.”

“She gathered herself and pitched her way out of it,” Marvel said. “That was an incredible job. That was a big part of the game right there.”

Sussex Tech capitalized on the momentum of that inning by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom half.

Taylor Collins blooped a single to right that dropped with two outs allowing one run to come home. Collins then scored on a RBI triple by Sample.

Sample added another run in the sixth when she scored on a misplay by the Lake Forest infield. Madison Watson had the other RBI for Sussex Tech with a single in the first inning.

The Spartans wrapped up the year at 14-7 overall. They only graduate one senior from this semifinal squad.

Of Lake Forest’s 14 players on its varsity roster, nine are either freshmen or sophomores.

“We’ve had a great season,” Tatman said. “They’ve come this far and I’m proud of the heart they’ve shown. We have an exciting season ahead of us next year and I’m really excited about our potential.”

Marvel was the coach the last time Sussex Tech won the softball title in 2012. This is his first year back after a few years away from coaching, but he gave all the credit to his players.

“I’m just riding their coattails,” Marvel said. “I just try to stay out of the way. My job is to point them in the right direction.”

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