Softball: Previewing the DIAA state tournament first round

STATEWIDE – With inclement weather and unplayable field conditions wiping out the first-round of the DIAA softball state tournament this past Saturday, the DIAA moved the first-round action to Monday, May 21.

Sussex Tech (16-2), Indian River (13-5) and Sussex Central (13-5) all earned spots in this year’s field of 16.

The Ravens, Indians and Golden Knights are just three of the Henlopen Conference’s eight teams in this year’s field. The two schools will be joined by Smyrna, Lake Forest, Delmar, Polytech and Milford.

Sussex Tech (No. 6 seed)

The Lady Ravens followed up last season’s successful campaign with an even more impressive 16-win 2018 campaign with more than half of its roster filled with sophomores and juniors.

Tech’s only two losses of the season came against state tournament teams – a 5-0 loss to No. 2 Smyrna March 28 and a 6-3 loss to No. 7 Indian River April 20.

Sussex Tech’s Junior starting pitcher Taylor Wroten (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Tech, currently riding a seven-game win streak into Monday afternoon’s first-round home showdown against No. 11 Charter School of Wilmington, has experienced plenty of leadership this season from its group of seniors: Alyssa Collins, Madison Parker, Megan Perdue and Hannah Betts.

CSW, making its third straight tourney appearance, lost in the opening round to Lake Forest last season but will be attempting to pull off an 11-6 upset over Tech.

The CSW-Tech showdown is set for 4 p.m. in Georgetown on Monday.

Indian River (No. 7 seed)

The IR Indians made a semifinal appearance in last year’s tourney before falling to Milford, 18-5.

This team lost just three seniors from last year and, with a pitching staff comprised of junior Abigail O’Shields and freshman Isabell Alley, were able to match last season’s 13-5 record en route to grabbing the No. 7 seed.

Head coach Erika Murphy’s squad will be going up against No. 10 Lake Forest in Monday’s first-round – the same Lake Forest squad IR knocked out of the tourney with a 7-4 quarterfinals victory in 2017.

Seniors Julia Bomhardt, Braydee Whitman and Damya Williams will look to finish out their high school softball careers on a high-note this postseason.

Monday’s first-round match-up is slated for 4 p.m. at Indian River High in Dagsboro.

Sussex Central (No. 8 seed)

Heading into 2018, senior Kaisey Reed was excited for the opportunity to take over the workload as Central’s pitching ace.

She proved worthy of ace status, as she pitched three shutouts and Central earned four wins over state tourney teams during the program’s 13-win campaign this spring.

Sussex Central senior starting pitcher Kaisey Reed (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Reed, along with fellow seniors Kailee Abbott, Taylor Evick, Morgan Burton and Natalie Oldham, have provided plenty of veteran leadership for head coach John Wells’ Lady Knights squad this season.

Central, with a first-round home showdown against No. 9 St. George’s at 4 p.m. this afternoon, is looking to improve upon last year’s state tournament one-and-done against Delmar.

Rest of field (all games currently scheduled for Monday, May 21)

No. 13 Mt. Pleasant at No. 4 Appoquinimink (4 p.m.)

Appo went 17-1 this season, suffering its lone loss to St. Georges Tech, 7-6, on Tuesday, May 8.

No. 12 Delmar at No. 5 Newark Charter (4 p.m.)

Last year’s state runner-up, the Delmar Wildcats went 11-7 this season, which included back-to-back losses to Lake Forest and Milford in early May.

No. 15 Polytech at No. 2 Smyrna (4 p.m.)

The Henlopen Conference champion Smyrna Eagles went 17-1 this season, with the squad’s lone loss coming by a score of 2-1 to the Indian River Indians in early April. The winner will face the Lake/IR winner in the quarterfinal round Tuesday.

No. 14 Padua at No. 3 DMA (4 p.m.)

Delaware Military Academy (15-3) lost its last game of the regular season, 2-1 against Smyrna, but had strung together a seven-game win streak prior to the one-run loss.

No. 16 Milford at No. 1 Caravel (5 p.m.)

After sneaking into the final spot of the tournament, the defending state champion Milford squad will take on the top-seeded Caravel squad in this battle of the Bucs.

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

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