Smith, Verosko lead LMN to Junior Softball District III title

MILLSBORO — Pitcher Megan Smith started her second game in three days and left fielder Kaylee Verosko hit her second homer over that same span to help Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke capture the Junior Softball District III title on Thursday night.

The six-inning, 16-4 victory over Georgetown/Cape followed LMN’s 13-2 Game 1 victory Tuesday night in the best-of-three series.

With the district banner in hand, Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke will represent District III in the state tournament, which begins July 11 at Camden-Wyoming.

The Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke girls hold up their Junior Softball District III championship banner Thursday night at Millsboro Little League (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“They came together quickly. It’s just a great group, they got along from Day 1 — you just can’t say enough about them,” said LMN manager Doug Tonge. “They were ready to play. It’s been a great team, one of the most fun I’ve been around, that’s for sure.”

Smith earned the complete-game victory in Game 1 and pitched the first two-plus innings of Thursday’s Game 2 before being relieved by left-handed pitcher Emma Cooper in the bottom of the third inning.

Cooper pitched four innings of two-run ball, striking out four Georgetown/Cape batters to finish things off.

“Great job by both of them,” Tonge said of the pitchers. “Megan pitched the whole first game Tuesday night. I just thought I’d get a change of pace with Emma and she came in and was just lights out. She did a great job.”

“I just wanted to start off strong, get ahead in the count,” Smith said of her focus in the pitcher’s circle in both games. “I just wanted to focus on strikes and let my defense help me. It was a whole team effort.”

LMN’s 16-run scoring barrage began in the top of the second inning.

Georgetown/Cape’s Megan Sterling high-fives LMN’s Kaylee Verosko, who had just hit a two-run home run and was on her way around the bases (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Behind 1-0 early, Shyla Donovan smacked a two-run double to left field to score Amara Cropper and Verosko.

“I was just trying to get everyone around to score,” Donovan said of her approach at the plate.

Donovan came around to score on an error just minutes later, putting LMN ahead 3-1.

In the top half of the third, two more LMN runs scored on a bases-loaded walk and a Georgetown/Cape fielding error.

Victoria Lecates came around to score a run in the top half of the fourth after stealing third base and jogging home on a throwing error. Lecates’ run put LMN ahead 6-3 heading into the fifth inning.

Verosko’s fifth-inning two-run blast to deep centerfield would put an exclamation point on the game and extend the lead to 8-3.

“I was just ready to hit the ball. There weren’t many runners on base — I wish there were more on base — but I was just ready to hit another home run,” Verosko said with a laugh.

Amara Cropper slides safely into second base after hitting a double to lead off the fifth inning (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“Kaylee Verosko, two home runs — well, she hit one each night — that kind of takes the wind out of your sails if you’re on the other end of that,” Tonge said.

Shortly after rounding second base during her fifth-inning home run trot, Verosko received a high-five from Georgetown/Cape shortstop Megan Sterling. It was a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by LMN’s coaching staff.

“It just shows the sportsmanship and it just shows a lot of these girls know each other and are friends,” Tonge said. “That was a nice show of sportsmanship.”

With a five-run lead, Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke’s lineup pushed down on the gas pedal and plated four runs in the fifth and six runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

Lecates (two), Verosko (two), Venables (two), Cropper (two) and Abby Slater (one) each drove in runs in the fifth and sixth innings for Laurel/Millsboro/Nanticoke.

For Georgetown/Cape, Erin and Brynn Parker combined for the six innings in the pitcher’s circle. Brynn Parker, Sterling and Rebekah Smith drove in three of the four runs for Georgetown/Cape’s offense.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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