Millsboro Big League battling Laurel for World Series bid

Special to the Coastal Point • Caroline Donovan: Rachel Hudson looks for a fly ball in a game against Laurel on Monday, July 14.Special to the Coastal Point • Caroline Donovan: Rachel Hudson looks for a fly ball in a game against Laurel on Monday, July 14.The road back to the Big League Softball World Series certainly offers its fair share of potential speed bumps for the Millsboro team. Obstacles to overcome include balancing time between work and softball, frequent doubleheaders and Laurel pitcher Reagan Green.

However, after trading wins in Monday’s doubleheader against Laurel at the Pyle Center in Roxana, the team finds themselves with a 4-2 advantage in the 12-game series that will decide which area team represents host District III at the World Series next month, right there at the Pyle Center.

“I think we’re looking good,” said Millsboro coach Monroe ‘Monnie’ Hudson. “Defensively, we’re good. Pitching, we’re good. We just gotta string the hits together, and this game we just couldn’t connect the hits.”

Despite not being able to put together their best hitting performance against Green in the first game, the team bounced back for the win in the late game that evening. Hudson said that hitting had not been a problem so far in the season — even when facing Green.

“Usually, it’s a fairly close game, with the exception of the first game the other night We went out and really hit the ball hard,” he explained of the game that included two home runs and a grand slam. “Usually, we’re playing for one or two, and sometimes it comes down to small ball. Reagan is always on. She’s a great pitcher, but we can hit her. We just gotta make the adjustments at the plate.”

Of course, Laurel isn’t the only team in the series with their strength lying in their pitching. The Millsboro own bullpen includes Indian River High School All-State selection Rachel Hudson and Sussex Central’s Shelby Wilkins and Mykala Steele.

“That’s definitely an advantage,” said Monnie Hudson. “It is good to change the pitchers up and let the team see something different.”

“It gives me a break,” added Rachel Hudson, who is coming off a high-school season in which she pitched most games through their entirety. “I think I’m way more relaxed — especially hitting — so I don’t have to always be stressed out. I can just relax, focus on my hitting one game and then the next game focus on my pitching.”

One of the prime examples of balancing a full-time work schedule with World Series aspirations is shortstop Karlie Smith, who returned directly from a lifeguard competition in Dewey Beach on Monday, as a member of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol, to make it to the Pyle Center for the late game.

“When you’re playing softball, you’re taking off days from work. And when you’re working, you’re taking off days from softball,” she explained. “I think we all do a really good job of balancing it, because we all know that softball is all of our main focuses. Right now, we’re just doing everything we can to keep winning games.”

No matter the outcome of the 12-game series, for the players off to college next season, facing a high level of competition will only make them more prepared to compete at the collegiate level.

“I think the girls that are heading off the college — this is definitely gonna make them better, it’s good for them,” Coach Hudson said.

“That’s the reason why a lot of us play,” added Smith. “To face the best competition in the area.”