Softball players from all over lower Delaware have become accustomed to success in Little League World Series tournaments, high school state championship games and in travel ball.
Now it seems like every four years, Delaware South, which consists of some of those very players, wins the Softball Carpenter Cup, a regional tournament organized by the Philadelphia Phillies
Danielle Bradley and Hailey Andrews combined on a one-hitter and South took advantage of some early miscues Tuesday as it shut out Tri-Cape 5-0 to capture its third Carpenter Cup championship.
Delaware South captured the inaugural Carpenter Cup in 2006, took home the championship trophy again in 2009 and then became the first team to win the tourney three times on Tuesday.
Gerald Jester, Delaware South’s manager, would like for the team to break its own streak next year.
“It is kind of weird. You can’t really explain it,” said Jester, who took over as Dover’s head softball coach last season. “Right now we’re on a four-year winning streak, I guess. Every four years we win it. But I want to break that streak. Hopefully we can win it next year and do it back-to-back.”
Jester’s team was powered by strong pitching, which got the benefit of an early 4-0 lead as three Tri-Cape errors in the first two innings led to early runs on a steamy afternoon at FDR Park.
Bradley, who will be a senior next season at Delmar, did not allow a hit over the first three innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked one.
Andrews took over in the top of the fourth and was simply overpowering. The rising junior at Woodbridge, struck out seven and walked one in four innings.
“Everything just was working for me, my curveball, my riseball was really working for me,” Andrews said. “We’re a very strong team. We get results. Coming out there with five runs already just really set the tone for me and really helped.”
Delaware South added another run in the fourth to break out to a 5-0 lead.
Third baseman Kate Richard and left fielder Tiara Duffy both went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Delaware South, which went 5-0 in the tournament. Nicole Ullman came off the bench and went 2 for 2.
Richard ripped a run-scoring double in the bottom of the first inning and then scored on an odd play. Tri-Cape’s catcher overthrew the pitcher on a toss back to the circle, which allowed Richard to come home with the second run.
Courtney Tate scored on an error to make it 3-0 in the second before a Duffy groundout to second base scored Kasey Frey to up the advantage to four runs.
“I love to come out of the gate and score runs early. It takes pressure off of everybody and everybody just sits back and they’re relaxed and play well,” Jester said. “Scoring early is a big key, for any game.”
Tri-Cape manager Candi Dean knew her team was in trouble.
“They threw very well,” Dean said, of Bradley and Andrews. “They threw hard and they mixed it up well. We struggled. I think that was definitely the best pitching that we’ve seen throughout the entire Carpenter Cup. They played very well. We dug ourselves a hole that was just a little too deep.”
Ullman scored the final run for Delaware South in the fourth inning on a throwing error.
“It was just hitting early and often and scoring a lot of runs,” said Duffy. “That and tight defense. I didn’t really have any hesitation coming in because I knew we had a good team and we’ve all played pretty much together our whole lives.”
Carly Testa got the only hit for Tri-Cape (5-2), lining a single to left field off Andrews in the sixth. Andrews had retired eight of the nine batters she had faced up to that point, with six strikeouts.
Andrews retired the side in order in the seventh to finish the game, getting some assistance from an amazing running catch by Duffy in left field.
“Delaware has some of the best softball talent around,” Jester said. “I coach travel ball and we go all over and play and we’re always real competitive no matter where we go.
“I knew we had talent, we had pitchers, we had hitters and we had defense, so I knew we were going to be tough to beat and we were.”
Now he expects Delaware South to be tough again – and well before 2016.