Lofty stature! Milford girls All-Stars in upper echelon of LL World Series softball standouts
By Rick Menning
This summer, indeed, marked an incredible journey for the Milford Major Division All-Stars, who finished play as a Top-5 United States team at the just-completed Little League Softball World Series.
Back in 1963, a film entitled The Incredible Journey was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It captures the adventures of Luath the Labrador Retriever, Bodger the Bull Terrier and Tao the Siamese Cat as they journey 250 miles through the Canadian wilderness in a determined effort to return to their home.
Overcoming all obstacles in that truly classic cinematic production based on a famous novel, they never gave up and achieved their quest.
Like that adventurous trio, manager Mike Bonanno's team of 12-under ballplayers also set out into the unknown several months ago starting at the district level and with many goals and an ultimate quest to race around third and head for home.
Home, in this case, being the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina. And like the trio of Luath, Bodger and Tao, they accomplished their mission -- and then some.
This squad of young girls from a community along the shores of Long Island Sound didn't just make it to the World Series, they left their mark in a sensational way at the Elm Street Park complex.
When the sun rose on Saturday morning in Greenville, only five teams (Milford, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and North Carolina) in the entire United States and one team (Philippines) in the entire world were still playing on the diamond at Stallings Stadium.
Only six of the original 12 teams were left in the nationally televised competition. The Milford All-Stars were not only one of those squads but they were also in the headlines for, less than 24 hours earlier, being a part of one of the most incredible games in Little League Softball World Series history against the Central Region representatives.
A nine-inning edge-of-your-seat, never-say-die thrilling victory that came just two days after the Connecticut state champions were involved in yet another extra-inning contest on Wednesday against World Series runner-up Maryland in opening-round action.
And while they fell just short on the scoreboard in that latter game vs. Delmar, it set the stage for a great comeback story that included not only the heart-stopping win over Columbia, Missouri but also a shutout vs. Alberta, Canada.
It took super pitching by Maryland's Macy Rickards in Milford's first game and The Philippines' Jacey Pajotal in Milford's 1-0 setback on Saturday afternoon to keep the New England Region champions from realizing even bigger dreams.
Nevertheless, being a top five (nationally) and top six (globally) finisher in World Series competition is very special.
Finale fielding gems
Celebrating her 13th birthday, Ariella DiOrio closed out her World Series play in style with yet another great throw down to second base to cut down a Philippines' runner trying to steal in the first inning.
Milford's infield again came up with numerous clutch plays to back up pitcher Sophia Horvack, who effectively limited the Asia-Pacific Region to ground balls and pop-ups.
In fact, nothing left the dirt the entire game with no outfield chances whatsoever. The Philippines' only run -- and the only run of the game -- came on an infield single.
Horvack struck out five Philippines batters and walked only two in a complete-game one-hitter.
Julia Scibek had a pair of infield hits and Lily Stankevich also used her speed to beat out a grounder in the first inning of Milford's season finale.
Connecticut takes great
pride in NE, East champs
Milford's Major Division and Junior Division Little League Softball teams represented their community, their state and their regions with excellence both on and off the diamond at the respective World Series and gave all those who followed them a summer that will never be forgotten!
Fab Five (USA) and Super Six (World)
Super Six (USA) and Elite Eight (World)