SMYRNA – The players and coaches on the Sussex Tech softball team each carry a Superball in their pocket, to remind them to bounce back when the going gets tough.
The Ravens hit like they were launching Superballs on Thursday.
Top-ranked Sussex Tech blasted four home runs — including two three-run shots — to power past No. 4 Smyrna 13-7 in a key Henlopen North matchup.
“We have some kids who can really hit the ball,” Ravens coach John Marvel said. “When they hit it, it’s going to go somewhere.”
It went over the fence. Freshman right fielder Jakayla Sample cracked two (to opposite sides of the field), and junior center fielder Rylee Shockley and junior first baseman Madison Watson each hit one for Sussex Tech (12-2, 5-1).
The Ravens also ripped three doubles, the first coming from Morgan Petty in the second inning to move Shockley to third. Then Alyssa Collins hit a sacrifice fly and Petty scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
Sussex Tech really got cranked up in the third. Watson and Taylor Collins singled with one out, and Sample lifted a towering shot over the left-field fence to make it 5-0.
“I think it was a high rise ball,” Sample said. “I just went with it. I could hear it. … If you hear it and you know it’s gone, it’s just a good rush in your body.”
The next batter — Shockley — also felt the rush with a solo drive to left-center to make it 6-0. The Ravens tacked on two more in the fourth on RBI singles by Collins and Shockley.
But Smyrna (9-3, 1-2) got it going in the bottom of the fourth. Olivia Faragher hit an RBI single and Sara Miller scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 8-2.
Then the Eagles flashed some power of their own in the fifth. Tayler John sliced an RBI single and Taylor Cappella — who went 4 for 4 — followed with a three-run homer to left to pull Smyrna within 8-6.
“You’ve got to give Smyrna a lot of credit,” Marvel said. “They could have kind of rolled over, but they did not. They came right back at us.”
But the Ravens had a powerful answer in the sixth. Nicole Hovatter doubled and Shannon Lord singled to set the table for Watson, who unleashed a three-run bomb to left.
“I just wanted to hit a good pitch, focus on not chasing any balls,” Watson said. “Just hit a nice line drive and hopefully it will go out.”
It did. Two batters later, Sample smoked an outside pitch over the fence in right field for her second homer, pushing the Sussex Tech lead to 12-6.
“I just went with the pitch and took it out,” Sample said. “It just opens up your mindset, because you can hit it anywhere and not just on one side of the field.”
The teams combined for 25 hits, but made few defensive mistakes with only one error. Both Lord and Watson had three hits for the Ravens, and Hovatter, Collins, Sample, Shockley and Petty each had two hits.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Marvel said. “They pushed on, and got back in control of the game.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.