WOODSIDE — It’s been a pretty good formula.
Polytech High’s softball team knows if it can give Shaina Reed an early lead, the talented pitcher is more than capable of doing the rest.
It worked again on Tuesday as the fourth-seeded Panthers scored four runs in the first inning and Reed threw a one-hitter as Polytech downed No. Appoquinimink, 5-1, in the DIAA state quarterfinals.
Reed allowed only an infield single and struck out 13 as Polytech (19-1) earned a rematch with top-seeded Delmar in Thursday’s semifinals. The Henlopen Conference champion Wildcats (18-2) handed the Panthers their only loss, 6-2, on April 30.
Thursday’s semifinal will be played at 4 p.m. at Indian River.
Polytech coach Jen Bradshaw has a lot of confidence with Reed in the circle and catcher Whitney DeMora behind the plate.
“They know they’ve been there before,” said Bradshaw. “They have the confidence that they’ve gotten out of those situations in the past and they can definitely work through those again.”
“Every time it’s different, you never know what to expect,” Reed said about pitching in the state tourney. “You always have to be on your toes. We’re excited for Thursday.”
With the Panthers leading 4-1, the Jaguars (16-4) put runners on second and third base with only one out. But Reed got a strikeout and a popup to get out of the jam without giving up a run.
Appo also put its leadoff runner on base in the fourth and she eventually reached third before Reed struck out the side.
The Jaguars scored their only run in the second on a hit batter and a two-base throwing error after a fielder’s choice.
Reed was able to keep Appo off balance with her movement pitches, striking out seven batters on called third strikes.
“I think Whitney did a good job calling the game,” said Reed. “She moved it around a lot. She went up and down, side to side. I think we did catch a lot of people off guard with the movement.”
“She had a lot of different pitches working all throughout the zone,” said Bradshaw. “I think that really kept the Appo hitters off balance.”
After scoring all of its runs in a 5-3 win over Indian River on Saturday in the first inning, the Panthers scored four more in the first on Tuesday.
Polytech only had three singles in the frame but took advantage of a dropped third strike, a walk and a hit batter. DeMora, Taylor Pechin and Morgan Dodge all picked up RBI in the inning.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of getting pumped up for the game,” Bradshaw said about her team’s first-inning success. “I’d just like to see that continue throughout the rest of the game. They are definitely coming out on fire, that’s good to see. We just need to continue that fire throughout the rest of the game.”
Polytech’s only other run off Appo pitcher MacKenzie Short came in the sixth when Amanda Waishes singled and eventually scored on an error.
The Panthers know they’ll have to be at their best to beat Delmar on Thursday. Polytech is trying to reach the state championship game for the second time in the last three years.
“You’re going to have to ge through the good teams to get to the championship,” said Bradshaw. “Let’s go, we’re ready. I know we lost to them earlier in the season but we’re ready to face them again.”