District 4 dream ends one win short

The District 4 Junior League softball team lost a 14-0 mercy-rule shortened decision to Mid-Atlantic champions West Point Little League on Aug. 7, at Stankye Field in Orange.

With the victory, West Point, the Pennsylvania champions out of Greensburg, Pa., earned a spot in the Junior League World Series at Everest Park in Kirkland, Wash.

West Point had a 4-0 lead after four innings, then blew the game wide open with 10 runs in the top of the fifth inning to invoke the mercy rule.

District 4, with players from Milford, Orange and North Branford on its roster, hurt itself by committing four errors in the frame, as West Point sent 16 batters to the plate and banged out six hits.

“West Point is a strong team... They’ve got a good program over there, good players over there,” District 4 manager Frank Koshes said. “They made the plays when they needed to and we had some key mistakes here today.

“Obviously, the mistakes hurt. That started in the first inning. Every inning we made a mistake which is uncharacteristic of us.”

The lone base hit for District 4, the New England champion, came with two outs in the bottom of the first, when Amanda Mendillo singled through the right side past the dive of first baseman Maddie Uschock.

West Point’s Morgan Ryan didn’t allow another base runner the rest of the way, striking out nine batters and walking none.

“This is a great group of kids,” Koshes said. “These are kids that used to be rivals and to get them all together on a team, and now play as teammates, that’s outstanding.

“Coming together and having fun with a group of friends, playing the game that they like to play, a win is always good, but a win isn’t everything.”

New England final

District 4 softball team defeated George J. Hummel from Seymour, 7-0, to win the New England pool title on Wednesday afternoon.

Seymour forced a second game to decide the New England titleholder with a 2-0 victory earlier on the day.

Seymour scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and pitcher Jenna Geffert shut out the potent District 4 attack.

In the second, Becca Johnson singled, Shari Minalga reached on an error and Tori Kellogg bunted her way aboard to load the bases.

Rebecca Findley lined a fly ball deep to right field, and Jenna Thomas’ throw to the plate resulted in a collision with both Johnson and D4 catcher Amanda Mendillo hitting the ground.

Johnson was safe, and with Mendillo prone in the batter’s box and the ball at the backstop, Minalga also crossed the plate.

A rule interpretation was asked for, and after a short delay and a phone call to the Little League office, the play stood.

The winner-take-all second game saw District 4 take a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning.

Emily Muzyka hit a solo home run to get the rally started.

After Thomas singled, Hannah DeSousa sacrificed pinch-runner Emily Mullins into scoring position.

A pair of groundouts and a single by Nicole Koshes pushed the score to 3-0.

Seymour threatened, but couldn’t get a run across, as D4 right-hander Julia Haeckel was at the top of her game.

Seymour’s best chance came in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Findley was hit by a pitch and Jovanna Hillman singled to put the first two batters on base. A wild pitch moved them into scoring position.

Haeckel recorded a strikeout, and then fielded Chelsea Avila’s bunt, but her throw to third was too late for the forceout.

Haeckel put another out in the book on strikes to leave the bags full, and District 4 tacked on two runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

Thomas led off the sixth with a single, pinch-runner Mullins was sacrificed up a base by DeSousa, and Marchitto ripped a line-drive RBI double to left field. Koshes singled her home for a 5-0 lead.

Caitlin Parisi singled in the seventh before Muzyka slugged her second home run — this one off the scoreboard in left-center field to make it a 7-0 game.

Team members are Jenna Thomas, Nicole Koshes, Carly Marchitto, Sydney Senerchia, Emily Mullins, Madison Murphy, Emily Muzyka, Julia Haeckel, Amanda Mendillo, Kaitlyn Parisi, Cassidy Boath, Brooke Matysovsky and Hannah DeSousa.

Frank Koshes was assisted by coaches Carl Marchitto and Brian Haeckel.