The 2021 softball season concluded with a thrilling extra-inning championship game between Caravel and Sussex Central. This season those two teams expect to be in the mix for another title run along with several other teams as Spring sports got underway this week.
As always, pitching is the focus and the state is blessed with a multitude of talent at that position.
The Golden Knights return sophomore Madge Layfield who recorded 22 strikeouts in the 11 inning championship game last year. They also have senior catcher Kate Evick, Mya Jones and Makenna Messina back to lead the offense.
There are several teams in the Henlopen Conference to challenge Central, including Caesar Rodney, Laurel, Sussex Tech, Delmar and an up-and-coming Indian River.
The Riders are solid in the circle with Peyton Shields, Laurel returns “ace” Kylee Hill, while the Indians feature Kinsley Hall and Megan Daisey.
Traditionally, Smyrna is a perennial power in the conference. Coach Shirey will need to replace a ton of talent from last year’s team, including pitcher and leading hitter Payton Dixon (University of Central Florida), but always has the Eagles in contention.
Caravel coach Randy Johnson will need to replace pitcher Jessica Walters who graduated (freshman at Providence), but he knows how to get the Buccaneers in form for a playoff run and he has Brooke Holdsworth and Veronica Diomede to lead his successful program.
St. Marks has a pair of talented juniors, as Ryleigh Thomas is back in the circle along with Carly Maxton from Smyrna. They will be tough, as will Roman Allen’s DMA Seahawks. The Hawks lost Graceyn Frost to graduation (University of Delaware) but return a solid team that is always in the hunt with Sara Sobocinski, Alexandria Delcollo along with Marissa Edavane and others.
Brian Timpson has built a fine program at Appoquinimink, and he will certainly have the “Jags” primed for another playoff. He has some options for pitching as Hailey Watlington returns along with freshman Ayla McCathern and DMA transfer Savanah Laird. The Jags will be paced offensively by Lilli Papellas, Julia Weglarz, Liv Marinucci and Watlington.
Expect Red Lion Christian, Newark Charter, Charter School of Wilmington, Middletown and Concord to be very competitive as well.
The First State is a “hotbed” for softball talent, allowing for excellent student-athletes to advance and excel at the next level. This season is no exception and I’m looking forward to watching, covering and “calling” as many teams and games as possible here at Delaware Live.
Best of luck to all. Now let’s “Play Ball”!
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