Next week, the Lower Sussex Little League Complex in Roxana will be inundated with softball players from around the globe, for the Big League and Senior League Softball World Series.
World-class players ranging in age from 13 to 18 will compete in the two tournaments, which begin Sunday, Aug. 2, and run through Sunday, Aug. 8.
I found out that I had a clavicle this week. Then, I found out that is was broken. Really broken, actually. Like snapped in half and sticking out all over the place broken. Like Owen Wilson in Act III of the movie “Wedding Crashers” broken.
It turns out that, after defying injuries while dropping into the Fenwick shore break for the past 15 years, fate (or Poseidon or Tom Cruise or whatever other mystical forces of the universe and the ocean that were supposed to be watching over me) finally dropped the ball.
The good news is I’ll be back in action in about four to six weeks. The bad news is the Little League World Series gets under way on Sunday and, while my photo-shooting arm should be alright, my mustard-spreading arm is hanging in a sling.
But like all great athletes — or at least sports reporters who write about great athletes — the show must go on, mustard-less hotdogs and all. So, in a misguided attempt to alleviate some self-pity, I decided to take look at a few other tough guys (or girls) who have successfully battled through injuries over the years.
Last summer, the “90 Seconds Movie” helped put some of Delmarva’s top surfing talent on the map. But this Friday, when the event makes its return to K-Coast Surf Shop, the men behind the curtain have something a little different up their sleeves for year two.
“We just wanted to show our gratitude to our local photographers and help get their work out there in the public eye,” explained local professional surfer Colin Herlihy, who helped orchestrate the event, along with videographer Joey Dwyer and Crazy 8’s owner Eugene Stiltner. “Last year, it was all about the local surfers, videographers and editors. This year, we wanted to pay homage to our local photographers.”
After giving out awards in categories such as “Best Air” and “Best Barrel” last year, local photographers this year submitted their 90-second slideshow for the “Framed” show, competing in categories including “Best Water Shot,” “Best Sequence Shot,” “Best Empty Wave or Lineup Shot,” “Best Usage of White Balance” and “Best Delmarva Lifestyle Photo.”
This year, for the first time, two local Challenger Division teams will participate in the first Challenger Exhibition Game at the Senior League Softball and Big League Softball World Series Tournaments in Roxana, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 5:30 p.m.
In 1989, the Little League Challenger Division was established to provide a Little League experience to children with physical and intellectual challenges. In 2001, Little League gave two Challenger Division teams the opportunity to play a game at the Little League Baseball World Series. First played in 2008, the game at the Little League Softball World Series has become a tradition in Portland, Ore., and will be take place on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 29, the 15th Little League Baseball World Series Challenger Exhibition Game will be played at Volunteer Stadium, featuring teams from State College, Pa., and Houston, Texas. Teams will also play at the Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash., on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 10:45 a.m. This year, for the first time, Little League International is supporting the participating leagues with a $15,000 grant to help offset the costs for the teams to participate in the Exhibition Game.
The Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club is giving youngsters a chance to hone their skills this summer, offering some new opportunities with their Junior Golf Program.
“Our goal is to promote the game of golf to kids,” said Cripple Creek pro Matt Keller. “We want the kids to learn the game through self-discovery.”
“We created the program and opened it to the public, thinking it would be a great opportunity for young kids to learn about golf,” added Junior Golf Chairman Michael Loftus. “Golf is lifelong. No matter the age, you can enjoy.”
For a $150 one-time fee, participants will get access to the practice range and putting green at the course every day after 2 p.m. From Sunday through Thursday after 3 p.m., they’ll also be able to Play unlimited open rounds of golf on the course. And every Tuesday through Aug. 11, members of the program will be able to compete in four- and nine-hole tournaments against other members.
Last July, Lower Sussex Little League had never won a state championship for softball. Less than a year later, they’ve won three — and they’re in the running for a fourth.
Right now the Pyle Center is lively with action from local softball All-Stars, but soon it will be lively with international ones, as well.
Both the Big League and Senior League World Series will return to Roxana on Sunday, Aug. 2, and span through Sunday, Aug. 8, drawing some of the top Little League talent from around the world.
Two-time World Series champion ASOFEM Little League will make their ninth consecutive appearance in Roxana in Senior League action, with teams from British Columbia (Canada) and the Philippines going against them, and Prague (Czech Republic) marking the first Czech team to play in a softball World Series.
I was all set to write about the great white shark that tried to eat Mick Fanning while he was surfing in the J-Bay Open this week, but then something more exciting happened.
He’s surfed some of the heaviest waves in the world at Pipeline. Paddled out with the great whites at Jeffrey’s Bay. And even sucker-punched Jason Segel on set of the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
But before his second trip to Delaware, pro-surfer Kalani Robb had only been skimboarding once.
“That was something new for me,” said Robb of the spontaneous skim session with local groms at the state line beach on Tuesday, July 21. “There was enough waves this morning that we just skimmed.”
Robb was in town with Catch Surf stars including newcomer Tyler Stanaland, getting shown around town by fellow Catch Surf team riders and Sussex County’s very own Brian Stoehr and Bill Baxter and Catch Surf East Coast sales manager Ryan Savage.
It took almost three and a half decades to get there. But it only took six and a half innings to get back.
After the Lower Sussex Little League All-Stars clinched the program’s first state title for softball at the Major League level in 2014, they’ve done it again at the Junior League level less than a year later — rolling District I (Camden Wyoming) 20-6 on Saturday night to earn a trip back to the regional tournament in Connecticut.
But despite the convincing final, Lower Sussex only led by one run after three innings.
“It was just butterflies,” said head coach Mike Patille of the close start. “Once that settled down, once we started driving the ball, that went away — we played our game.”
“After people got on base, we came together — we just started hitting the ball,” added third-baseman Kaylah Briddell. “We never give up. We always have faith and confidence in our team.”
Briddell led off the first inning with an infield single, getting to second on an obstruction call and rounding third the next at-bat, on an RBI-single from pitcher Nicole Patille, to make it 1-0.
The precedent had been set the year before. And the night before, too.
After the Lower Sussex Little League Junior All-Stars had won the program’s first state championship as Major Leaguers in 2014, they won the program’s second state championship as Junior Leaguers on Saturday night.
So, when this year’s Major Leaguers had a chance to win a state title of their own on Sunday night, they delivered — holding on for a 6-2 win against District I (Middletown-Odessa-Townsend) to earn a trip to Bristol, Conn., for the regional tournament.
“We get to do what they did last year,” said catcher Savannah O’Shields, whose sister Abby O’Shields pitches for the Junior League team and played for the Major League team last year. “I really wanted to get there, because my sister got there — so I had to get there [too].”
After a sixth-inning triple from right-fielder Ursula Barrientos and ensuing RBI from Morgan McGee led to a 7-5 comeback win against MOT on Friday, July 17, the girls found themselves in a back-and-forth battle again on Sunday, July, 19.
After winning their second straight state championship, the Lower Sussex Junior League All-Stars are headed to the regional tournament in Connecticut — that is, if they can raise enough money first.
Last year, at the Major League level, after becoming the first LSLL softball team in program history to win a state title, some of the girls’ expenses were covered when they got to Bristol, Conn., for tournament play. But this year, at the Junior League level, they’re going to need a little more help.
“Last year, all the girls’ lodging, all the girls’ meals, all the girls’ laundry was all done by Bristol — none of it is this year,” explained LSLL head coach Mike Patille. “We gotta get the girls hotel rooms; we gotta get transportation back and forth to the parks; we gotta feed them; we gotta get their uniforms laundered every day — everything is on us this year.”
Patille estimated that, including travel expenses and lodging, the team need could need to raise upwards of $10,000 to make it to regionals to battle for a chance to get to the Little League World Series in Washington.
They only needed six innings.
After third-baseman Kaylah Briddell belted a lead-off single and then stole second base, the Lower Sussex Junior League All-Stars never let up, rolling District I (Camden-Wyoming) 12-1 in the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday night.
Briddell would eventually score, to give LSLL a 1-0 lead, after being knocked in on a line-drive shot to center off the bat of pitcher Nicole Patille. Patille tripled on the play, making it 2-0 when catcher Grace Snyder managed to hit her in on an infield double. Then, Snyder would head for home after a double from LF/P Abby O’Shields, beating the throw home, to give Lower Sussex a 3-0 lead.
“When you start game and you get runs immediately, the wind’s in your sails,” said LSLL head coach Mike Patille. “Everybody was driving. All of it came together.”
Ever since Rachel Armstrong punched me in the stomach for telling her she “threw like a girl” in third grade, I’ve been pretty wary about what I say when it comes to women and sports. That gut-wrenching shot (that I totally didn’t cry from, by the way) was a pretty good reminder that not only can girls throw, but they can hit too.