BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s deep and talented varsity softball team got its 2011 campaign off to a fast start this week, routing visiting James M. Bennett, 10-0, in a game shortened to five innings on Tuesday.
The Seahawks return seven players from last year’s 17-4 team, which reached the region finals before bowing out of the state tournament. In the middle of everything again this year is Shippensburg University-bound Maddie Justice, who has emerged as a leader for the Seahawks in her four years as a starter.
Also back in leadership roles for the Seahawks this year are seniors Katie Colgan, Alana Rush and Sam Simpson, along with sophomores Jessica Iacona, Amanda Parsons and Abby Schorr. Expected to make an immediate impact as freshmen are Jessica Bunting and Taylor Black.
Justice started on the mound for Decatur on Tuesday and pitched a complete game shutout. She also drove in the tenth and final Seahawk run to end the game in the bottom of the fifth. Decatur led 6-0 early and continued to pile on the runs with a couple of big innings. In the third, Iacona drove in a run to make it 7-0, and moments later, Rush doubled in Iacona to make it 8-0. Justice then drove in Rush to make it 9-0 in the third.
Justice moved up to second on a passed ball and moved to third after Parsons drew a walk to put runners on the corners with two outs. However, Black’s sharp line to center was caught on a great play by the Bennett centerfielder and the inning ended with no further damage.
Decatur had an opportunity to add a tenth run in the bottom of the fourth after a one-out triple to right by Simpson, but the runner was stranded on third as the inning ended. Colgan struck out and Rush grounded out to end that scoring opportunity.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Seahawks collected their tenth run to end the game. Iacona reached on a base hit before Justice drove in Iacona from second with a base hit to left to end the game early at 10-0. Decatur hits the road for a pair of games against Wicomico (yesterday) and Queen Anne’s this afternoon.