Business is picking up for Sussex Central High’s softball team. Meanwhile, things for Delmar have unraveled dramatically in a 24-hour span.
The fifth-ranked Golden Knights banged out 10 hits and senior pitcher Mykala Steele threw a five-hitter in SC’s surprising 11-0 rout of No. 2 Delmar in a Henlopen Conference softball matchup on Thursday.
Chelsey Ward went 2 for 2 and knocked in three runs and Morgan Smith contributed two hits and drove in a pair of runs for Sussex Central, which improved to 7-1 overall, 5-1 in conference.
Smith hit a solo home run, her fourth of the season, to right-center field in the top of the sixth inning to give the Golden Knights a 10-0 lead. The game was stopped after the sixth due to the 10-run mercy rule.
“We were just trying to hit good pitches and follow the scouting report,” Smith said. “I think [Thursday] was the first day that we’ve played a really good team to see where we’re at in the year.
Steele, a right-hander, was expecting a tough battle against Delmar (11-3, 6-2), which was coming off a difficult 12-3 loss to rival Laurel on Wednesday.
“Every other time we’ve played Delmar, it’s a dogfight,” said Steele, who struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. “We’ve played them in the state tournament quarterfinals twice and we went extra innings with them last year in the regular season, so it was a good win.”
It’s been a difficult couple of days for Delmar coach Michelle Niblett and her Wildcats.
“Maybe we were just so caught up because Laurel’s our rival, obviously, and I think we thought we’d play better against them,” Niblett said. “We just weren’t Delmar softball the last two days.
“I’m really at a loss, and I think the kids are, too. We just had a wonderful team talk [after the game], and hopefully we’ll come out next Monday and be ready to go. Central’s good, I’m not taking anything from them.”
Sussex Central erupted for six runs in the third to chase Delmar pitcher Danielle Bradley. The rally included two errors by Delmar, two walks, two wild pitches – one of which scored a run – and a batter that was hit by a pitch.
Shelby Wilkins went 2 for 4 and knocked in a run for Sussex Central, which had eight different players score at least one run. Five different players had hits for Delmar, two of which were infield singles.
“The rise ball was working good, and I was hitting my corners and staying low so it was hard for them to hit the ball,” Steele said.
Delmar hopes to get back on track when it hosts Dover next Tuesday.
“That was a big loss against Laurel because it was for the Henlopen South, basically,” Niblett said. “The kids knew that, and I think that was still in their minds.”
Things really pick up for Sussex Central next week, when the Golden Knights travel to Smyrna (Monday), play at Cape Henlopen (Tuesday), go to Laurel (Thursday) and finally host Indian River (Friday).
For them, it’s go time.
“This was a good confidence booster for us, and it should help us along the way,” Steele said.