Puerto Rico gets the gold at Softball World Series
District 3’s Woodbridge edged in championship game
After narrowly losing last year’s championship to the District 3 host team from Laurel, Del., Latin America swung back to win the 2012 Senior League Softball World Series, 6-4, over this year’s District 3 representatives.
The Senior League team from Woodbridge played well in the week-long tournament in their first year as District 3 host team. They came back from a 5-2 loss against the East region champs from New Jersey to win every game, including the semifinal against Central, 5-3, regularly represented by Indiana.
Yet the ASOFEM Little League from Maunabo, Puerto Rico, steamed through the competition, beating every team except Central. Puerto Rico also won World Series Championship for Latin America in 2008. Ten of the girls had competed in the 2011 games, and the others have won two Junior League World Series in Seattle, Wash.
On Aug. 11, the skies threatened rain all day, casting a few drops but holding off until after the championship, broadcast live at noon on ESPN.
Latin America player Jocelyn De Leon was pitching up a storm, however, as she threw nine strikeouts and only walked one opposing player. Nine District 3 players got hits, but quick Latin American fieldwork only allowed four runs.
Francymar Collazo hit an RBI triple for Puerto Rico’s first point, and Quetzy Rodriguez snuck home in the midst of an impressive District 3 double play.
In the third inning, with bases loaded, District 3’s Devon Bitler got some action in centerfield. After catching one ball for one out, she caught a second pop fly for a second out, threw to the pitcher, who passed the ball to third-baseman Tiarra Keeler, who closed in with shortstop Brady Keeler to catch the third runner and end the inning.
District 3 pulled ahead with a total of four runs by the bottom of the third inning. Yet when Latin America players Quetzy Rodriguez and Yahlis Munoz trapped a D3 runner between third base and home, Woodbridge scoring ended.
With D3 primary pitcher Hailey Andrews playing first base, secondary pitcher Nicole Widen relied on the team’s fieldwork against Latin America. However, some nerves may have prevented Woodbridge from stopping balls as quickly as they would have liked — especially in the top of the fifth inning, when Munoz and Yairka Moran hit doubles to even the score. Munoz would do it again in the sixth inning to cement Puerto Rico’s victory.
Wilmarie Martinez was all smiles after the game. The second-baseman not only caught a number of fly balls late in the game, but she also hit the RBI double that put Latin America ahead in the fifth inning.
Martinez said through the team’s translator that she was nervous when Puerto Rico fell behind, but that she felt very happy and proud to represent the winning Latin America team.
Manager Victor Colon said he had never doubted the girls, that they did the job they intended. The team, he said, was looking forward to flying home to celebrate with their community.
Although D3 was runner-up in this year’s series, team manager R.J. Bennett said the local girls were all winners. Kaitlyn Slater earned a double for two RBIs, while Keeler and Andrews each hit an RBI double.
District 3 definitely had support in the stands. Apart from local friends and family, at least three teams sat in the stands near dugout, joining in their signature “Delaware Rumble” cheer between innings.
“We felt that brewing in the last day or two,” said Bennett. “It really surprised me. Like, every coach came over to me, and even players started coming over and saying, ‘We’re rooting for you guys. We appreciate the way you looked and handled yourselves.’ That meant an awful lot. I didn’t see that coming. It’s not like we were faking something.”
For several of the girls, their Little League career is over, but they’ll continue playing ball in high school and college. Other members of the District 3 team from Woodbridge may return in 2013 for the next Senior League Softball World Series.