WATERFORD — For the Milford Little League All-Stars, the moment was never too big and the pressure never consuming.
After losing the first game of the double elimination softball state tournament to Wallingford, Milford battled back to win four games in four days, including a two-game sweep of Wallingford in the Connecticut state championship.
Having won the first game of the finals against previously undefeated Wallingford on Monday, Milford completed its state championship run with a 4-3 comeback win on Tuesday.
“I am in shock,” Milford manager Brian Corris said. “We were just happy to win the district and here we are with a state championship. I am totally blown away.”
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Milford first baseman Maddie Deldin stepped into the box with the bases loaded and delivered in the clutch, connecting for a bases-clearing triple.
“If you go back to the first Friday game against Wallingford where we lost, after that game I shook up the lineup a little bit,” Corris said. “I took the girls who were hot and moved them up, and one of the girls we moved up who had a good run in districts and sectionals was Maddie Deldin. We stuck her in the two hole and she came up with a huge hit today with the bases loaded.”
Deldin drove a pitch to right-center field and raced around the bases for her three-run triple, propelling Milford to a 4-3 lead that it would hold for the state title.
Pitching for a third day in a row and following up her complete game victory on Monday, starter Abby Corris showed no signs of fatigue.
“These girls have played a ton of softball this year,” Brian Corris said. “Between travel and little league these girls have probably played 50 or 60 games. They are used to playing day after day. Abby pitches 250 pitches sometimes in a day, so she is used to going back-to-back days.”
Milford opened the scoring in the second inning on a RBI groundout by Olivia Gregory, but Wallingford starting pitcher Haley LaValley immediately knotted the game at one an inning later with a RBI double.
Wallingford extended its lead to 3-1 in the fourth on a two-run triple off the bat of Ava Sutera before Deldin’s late heroics sealed the win.
Abby Corris struck out the side in the final frame, sending Milford into the regional round beginning this weekend in Bristol.
“We’re in regionals, I don’t even know what the heck I’m going to do,” Brian Corris said. “I go day by day, I don’t even know the process of how regionals work. I have to start doing my homework. This was the goal, to win today and that is the only thing I have been thinking about for the last 24 hours.”
Wallingford’s impressive postseason run comes to an end with the loss, having swept both the district and going unbeaten in the state tournament until the two championship games.
“I told the girls that this one game, last night and this tournament don’t define you,” Wallingford manager Jamie LaValley said. “I always tell them is that what defines you is the amount of work you put in day in and day out, putting in the work and being a family for the last two months. Even though it stings right now, you can be proud of the work you put in. They did everything we ever asked them to do and I couldn’t be more proud of every single one of them.”
Representing Connecticut, Milford is scheduled to play its first Regional game on Sunday which will be aired on ESPN+.