Shock and awe! Milford All-Stars electrify the youth softball world with a win for the ages
By Rick Menning
One of the greatest games in the history of the Little League Softball World Series played out amidst a magical and surreal scene of astonishment at Stallings Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina on what was a highly memorable August 12, 2022.
In a thrilling display on the diamond, the Milford, Connecticut Major Division All-Stars defied all the odds and put their entire state and a captivated nation watching on ESPN2 into a frenzy with an 8-2 victory by scoring six runs in the ninth inning against Columbia, Missouri.
When the dust from the infield dirt and then the storms cleared, the girls in the New England uniforms walked off the field with a phenomenal victory and a berth in tomorrow's game against the loser of the 10 a.m. contest between Maryland and the Philippines. That game will be televised on ESPN2.
Nine innings totaling more than three hours of high drama -- not even counting the rain delay -- showcased the testament to the sheer willpower of Milford's dynamic ballplayers.
This was an undeniably awesome showcase attraction at any level of any sport as the district, sectional, state and regional champions refused to lose on an absolutely defining day in youth softball perseverance. They put their heart and soul into every play in every inning.
In front of a delirious crowd of Milford parents and fans in the bleachers at Elm City Park, Connecticut's best ballplayers from the 12-under age group produced the most unforgettable performance of their young lives.
Many web gems
The highlight reel was smokin' hot as it churned out one fantastic play after another, one fantastic at-bat after another, one clutch pitch after another. Just an unbelievable effort by an unbelievable team from Milford.
Where to start! Let's begin with the gold gloves!
The biggest of so many big defensive moments came in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game and Milford's season seemingly on the line.
With the bases loaded with Central Region runners and no outs, third baseman Julia Scibek made a great heads-up play by racing in to catch a liner and in the same motion quickly pivoted with a throw over to first to double off the runner for two outs.
First baseman Maddie Deldin then tracked down a soft fly ball in short right field and made an over-the-head catch for the final out and an amazing reversal in momentum.
Scibek came up huge again with a great scoop of a sharply hit ball near the bag and fired over to Deldin in another of so many great plays that it was hard to keep track of them all.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Milford's infield was lights out as it has been throughout the entire All-Star tournament season.
After Gabby Rodriguez threw the grounder over to Maddie Deldin for the first out, second baseman Lily Stankevich ran in on a sinking soft liner that she basically scooped up while falling to the infield dirt for the second out of the final inning. Julia Scibek then made a 5-3 putout look easy for the final out as the Milford players hugged each other in a well-deserved celebration.
Riding the wave of enthusiasm and encouragement from escaping the eighth-inning jam, the Milford girls came up in the top of the ninth inning and displayed the heart and determination of true warriors.
That onslaught from the plate was highlighted by Ariella DiOrio's two-run single that ricocheted off the outstretched glove of the Missouri shortstop and into short center field to extend the lead to 5-2 after Maddy Bonanno -- who was on second base per the extra-inning rule and then advanced to third -- burst for home on an error following a super bunt by Maddie Deldin for the 3-2 advantage.
Then it was Rodriguez' turn to bring the Connecticut supporters to their feet when she laced a booming triple off the wall scoring Riley Fagan-Davies who had come in to pinch run for DiOrio.
The jet fuel that rocketed the Milford offense into orbit was supplied by pinch-hitter Emily Speringo, who after entering the game in the fourth inning unleashed not one, not two but three straight hits in her three at-bats.
In all, Milford erupted for 11 hits in this classic game.
Julia Scibek connected for three hits including a single, double and triple; and along with Speringo's great outing at the plate, six other Milford batters had at least one hit.
Down but not out
The Missouri girls jumped out to a 2-0 lead with runs in the first and second innings, but the Milford squad rallied back with runs of their own in the fourth and fifth innings.
With two outs in the fourth, Speringo delivered the first of her clutch rips with an RBI single to center field scoring Chloe Capalbo who had also sent a base hit to center.
Capalbo also flashed the glove in the latter stages of the game with a basket catch while in full stride racing in toward the infield.
Milford tied the game in the fifth inning when, again with two outs, Julia Scibek powered a double deep and over the head of the Missouri left fielder. She then raced home on Lily Stankevich's run-scoring single to right field. Both of those hits came with two strikes. Talk about clutch!
Maddy Bonanno came into the circle to pitch in the third inning and went on to be solid for the next seven innings. Sophia Horvack was top notch in her two innings of pitching,