Host team leads strongly in World Series play

As of Aug. 8, the Senior League Softball World Series, held at Roxana’s Pyle Center, was halfway through tournament play. And while the weather was heating up, so was the competition.

softball: Alyssa Martin slides into base with a Latin America player trying to tag her before she reaches safety.Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT
Alyssa Martin slides into base with a Latin America player trying to tag her before she reaches safety.

Three teams were undefeated in tournament play, including hosts District III (Laurel, Del.) and appeared to be in prime position to make the championship game, which will be televised by sports network ESPN.

The Laurel All-Stars were 2-0 and tied the USA Central team from South Bend, Ind., in Pool A with two days of play left before the semi-finals were to begin on Aug. 10. Laurel battled back in a game shortened due to the weather to defeat USA East (Pawcatuck, Conn.) 9-2 in the opening round behind a third-inning rally and six strong innings pitched by Stephanie Wheatley.

Wheatley walked one batter, allowed five hits and struck out six. Brooke Evans, Jenna Cahall and Wheatley combined to score Laurel’s four runs and take a 4-2 lead in the third inning. Kelsey Oliphant smashed a solo homerun — the tournament’s only thus far — in the fifth to gain a 5-2 lead in the fourth. Her sister Taylor belted in the sixth run on an RBI double to extend their lead to 6-2. Three Laurel base runners stole home, rounding out the 9-2 win.

Laurel then slipped past the Latin American team (Maunabo, Puerto Rico) with a 1-0 win. Jenna Allen followed up Wheatley’s strong performance with one of her own, allowing only one walk, four hits and fanning a game-high eight batters in the shutout victory. Kelsey Oliphant scored the game’s lone run on a bobbled catch by Latin American first-baseman Aida Cruz on an Alyssa Martin fielder’s choice. Latin America’s shortstop, Ana Sabat, held Oliphant initially, but by the time Cruz was able to gather the bobbled catch and make the throw, Oliphant had already slid into home plate.

USA Central has shutout both its opponents: Canada 13-0 and East 1-0, though the road should get tougher as they continue in the Series. Central has two tough Pool A opponents in Latin America (1-1) and Laurel on Aug. 8 and 9, respectively.

USA Southwest representative (San Antonio, Texas) led Pool B at 2-0 as of Wednesday. They defeated EMEA (Den Bosch, Netherlands) 7-0 and edged out USA South (Morristown, Tenn.) with a two-run seventh-inning rally for a 2-1 victory. The Southwest had Aug. 8 off, but was to play USA West (Glendale, Ariz.) in another possible pool-deciding game on Aug. 9. The West was 1-0 and was set to play EMEA (0-2) on Aug. 8 before squaring off with the Southwest.

The semi-finals begin Friday, Aug. 10, at 5:30 p.m. The first semi-final game will be at Ebbets Field, between the first-place team from Pool B and the second-place team from Pool A. The fourth-place teams from both pools will play on Connie Mack Field at the same time. The first-place team from Pool A and the second-place team from Pool B will play at Ebbets Field at 8 p.m. And the third-place teams from both pools will play at 8 p.m. on Connie Mack Field.

The championship game will be played on Ebbets Field at 2 p.m. on Aug. 11.