Dominating pitchers threw the top four seeds into Thursday’s semifinals in the state high school softball tournament. .
No. 1 Sussex Central 6 – No. 9 Appoquinimink 1
Madge Layfield continues to impress as she allowed just one hit and struck out 13 batters to send the top-seeded Golden Knights into the semifinals. Layfield has allowed just seven hits and struck out 40 batters in the three post season wins. The game was close early as the Jags scored a run on an RBI single by Maddie Bauerle in the top of the third to pull even at 1-1. The Golden Knights regained the lead in their half of the third when McKenna Boyle singled with two outs to bring Catherine Hassler home and it was 2-1 till the fourth when Sussex Central took control. Kaylee Verosko homered with one out, and after loading the bases, Kate Evick went yard to make the score 6-1 (one of the base runners failed to touch home, so it was not counted as a grand slam). That was more than enough for Layfield as she retired the next nine batters in order.
No. 1 Sussex Central hosts No. 4 Laurel Thursday in the semifinals. The two met in late March with Layfield striking out 10 in five innings in a 10-0 shutout.
No 4 Laurel 8 – No. 5 Smyrna 0
For the third time this season Laurel beat the Smyrna Eagles, this time snapping Smyrna’s 10-game tournament streak and eliminating the two-time defending state champs from a third straight title. Kylee Hill recorded six strikeouts in an eight-hit shutout. Hill has not allowed a run in Laurel’s three playoff games. She has 28 Ks in the three tournament wins. Once again, the deadly speed of leadoff batter Couri Smith was a factor in the win as she went 4-for-4 and scored 4 runs. Ashley Ullman chipped in with two hits and two RBIs while Mackenzie Whaley also had two hits. The Eagles were led by pitcher Payton Dixon who was 3-for-3 and teammate Sheridan Price added nine hits.
The Lady Dogs will travel to Georgetown to face top-seed Sussex Central Thursday.
No. 2 DMA 2 – No. 7 Caesar Rodney 0
In the closest quarterfinal, DMA blanked Caesar Rodney 2-0. The Seahawks’ Graceyn Frost allowed her first hit of the tournament as her numbers in the three playoff games has been outstanding. Frost has 48 strikeouts, has not allowed a run, and has given up just the one hit. The ‘Hawks offense produced single runs in the second and fourth innings as Annika Downs tripled in the second and was singled home by Lexi Delcollo. In the fourth frame, Marisa Edavane cleared the fence with a solo home run. The Riders mounted a rally in the top of the sixth with one out when Riley Elledge reached on an error, Kaitlyn Horton walked and Sydney Hatch was safe on a bunt single to load the bases. Frost then retired the next two batters on a force out at home and a strike out to end the threat.
DMA will meet Caravel at Midway on Thursday in the other semifinal. These two met May 3 with DMA winning 6-0.
No. 3 Caravel 4 – No. 11 Middletown 1
Jess Walter struck out 14 and allowed only 3 hits as Caravel advanced to the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Middletown. Walter has posted 32 strikeouts and allowed only five hits in the Buccaneers three playoff games. The Bucs scored in the second inning on singles by Mia Guerrieri and Haley Grygo. Those two would figure prominently in the bottom of the sixth as Veronica Diomede would leadoff with a double and score on a single from Brooke Holdsworth. Guerrieri then doubled with two outs and came home on Grygo’s single. The Cavaliers scored their run in the top of the seventh on a double by Summer Montgomery and a 2-out RBI single from Madelyn Hackett.
Caravel will travel to Midway Thursday to face DMA in the semifinals.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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