“And then there were four…the 24-team field has been reduced to the final 4 as the DIAA softball tournament continues Tuesday”. The Henlopen Conference-South makes up half the field as both No. 4 seed Laurel and No. 6 seed Indian River scored late in their quarterfinal games to advance. The top seed, Caravel used 13 hits to score a 10-1 win over Polytech, while the 2nd seeded Royals of Delmarva Christian blanked Sussex Tech 5-0 behind a balanced offense and Kaylan Yoder’s 19 strikeouts. Here are the semifinal matchups and a preview of what should be a very exciting finish to the tournament.
No. 1 Caravel (16-2) The 2-time reigning champs continue to impress at the plate as Coach Randy Johnson’s Buccaneers used a 13-hit barrage to outscore Polytech 10-1 in the quarterfinal game. The Bucs had four homers in the game as Haley Grygo, Brooke Holdsworth went yard and Zayda Rocke belted two HR’s. Coach Johnson used both Kasey Xenidis and 8th grader Morgan Maxwell in the circle and the defense has been superb all season. In Caravel’s two tournament games they have outscored the opposition by a combined 22-3. Now the Bucs will face the Laurel Bulldogs, a team they defeated on May 11th 12-2 in six innings. Coach Johnson is in his 13th season with 9 title game appearances and 4 of the school’s record 12 state championships. Caravel ended a “special” year for the Polytech Panthers, the No. 8 seeds. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for Kyle Taylor’s Panthers.
No. 2 Delmarva Christian (17-3) The Royals dispatched the 10-seed Sussex Tech 5-0 as Kaylan Yoder “fanned” 19 batters while Maggie Kwiatkowski, Lily Fetterman, and Lily Hutt each had 2 hits to pace the offense. Ryley McCluskey had a 2-RBI double for the Royals. Yoder has been stellar all season in the circle and at the “dish”, especially in an early season win over Indian River (the team they will face in the semifinals). Yoder recorded 17 strikeouts, allowing just one hit in the 9 inning 2-1 victory back in March. She also had the only two hits against the Indians’ Kinsley Hall. Both hits were doubles as she scored the two runs, including the 9th inning game winner when she stole home. First year head coach Rachel Fetterman has done a fantastic job with this team as the Royals look to advance to the school’s 1st state championship game.
No. 4 Laurel (15-5) In her 14th year as head coach at Laurel, Jodi Green has the Bulldogs on the doorstep of a title game, the 1st since 2015. In one of the most exciting quarterfinal games, Laurel trailed St Marks 2-0 until the bottom of the 6th. The rally started with with a one out single by Lynch, who stole 2nd. Bailey Ullman reached on an error to put runners at the corners. Lynch scored on a fielders choice, sending Bailey Ullman to 2nd. Her sister Ashlyn ripped a double to tie the game. The game stayed tied until the 8th inning when Laurel would get the “walk-off”. With one out, Bailey Ullman doubled and Kaitlyn Roy was inserted to run for her. A sacrifice bunt advanced Roy to 3rd and the next two batters were walked to set up the “force at any base” scenario. That would not come to fruition as Roy scored on a wild pitch to end the game. A thrilling come-back for Laurel and a heart-breaking end of the season for St Marks. The Spartans compiled a 17-3 record. As for Laurel, it sets up a rematch with Caravel.
No. 6 Indian River (17-3) Head coach Sara Powell (4th season) has guided the Indians to a semifinal showdown with Delmarva Christian. To no one’s surprise, Indian River and Sussex Central met at Del Tech – Owens campus in a quarterfinal pitching duel. The game was scoreless going into the 7th inning. The Indians’ got a lead off single by Lily Hoban, then an intentional walk to Jaya Shaub. Kinsley Hall laid down a bunt for a single, loading the bases. Jillian Coulbourn worked a full count in a 10 hit at-bat and eventually got walked, which brought in the only run of the game. Hall retired the Golden Knights in order in the bottom half to complete the win. Central’s Madge Layfield recorded 10 K’s and allowed just 2 hits while Hall had 12 strikeouts. It was the “rubber match” between these two programs as Sussex Central won the regular season game, and IR won the Henlopen Conference title game. The Indians semifinal game at Delmarva Christian will be another matchup of two awesome pitchers in Kinsley Hall and Kaylan Yoder.
How to Watch: Both semifinal games and the championship game on June 3rd will be streamed live through the NFHS Network – powered by 302 Sports.
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