MILLTOWN — The 13th-seeded Saint Mark’s Spartans softball team was looking to do something it hadn’t done in 10 years when they faced Wilmington Charter on May 18: win a DIAA softball state tournament game.
The Spartans had their sophomore ace, Ryleigh Thomas, back in the circle for the game. She threw a two-hitter with 17 strikeouts and had a bases-clearing double in their 4-0 win over the 20th-seeded Force.
Thomas retired the Force in order in the first with two strikeouts. In their half of the first, Pia Perrone hit a leadoff double but wasn’t able to score as the next three Spartans batters flew out. Wilmington Charter’s first batter of the second inning flew out, but the next 11 outs would all come via Thomas strikeouts.
The Spartans got their offense going in the bottom of the second inning with two outs when Sophia Wenger drew a walk and scored on a single by Amanda Oller. Olivia Datilio was hit by a pitch, and a single by Perrone loaded the bases. Thomas drove a 2-2 pitch into right field for a three-run double thanks to a great slide into second base.
The Force picked up a leadoff double in the fourth inning by Julia Souder, but Thomas struck out the next three batters to keep Souder from scoring. The Force got their second hit in the fifth, a two-out double by Cecilla Johnston, but they couldn’t advance her. Kate Hoban threw four shutout innings to keep Wilmington Charter in the game. The Force finished the season at 10-9.
The Spartans (14-5) advance to face the winner of Laurel and Archmere on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. The Auks travel to Laurel on Thursday to meet the Bulldogs.
All photos by Jason Winchell.