CAMDEN — Rosa’lynn Burton had faced Hailey Andrews enough to know where to look for her first pitch.
The Caesar Rodney High third baseman was determined she was going to go after it.
“My demeanor was to go up hitting that first pitch because it’s always so pretty,” said Burton.
Burton not only swing at Andrews’ first pitch, she smacked it down the left-field for a double that got the Riders off on the right foot against the talented Woodbridge pitcher.
That aggressive approach seemed to be just what sixth-seeded CR needed as it finally got the best of Andrews and the No. 11 Raiders, 11-4, in the first round of the DIAA softball state tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Despite their higher seeding, the Riders (14-5) had lost three in a row to Andrews and the Raiders (12-7). Andrews did strike out 12 but CR had 10 hits and jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings to end that streak.
The Riders’ first state tourney victory since 2011 earned CR a quarterfinal game at third-seeded Caravel (14-5) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Woodbridge just beat CR, 4-3, on May 8.
“I’ll admit it, I was nervous coming into this, facing her,” Riders’ coach Paul Damask said about Andrews. “I wanted to beat Woodbridge this year because next year they don’t have her. She is one of the top pitchers in the state. To beat her is great.”
“They’re a great team,” said CR shortstop Stephany Courtney. “We wanted to win so bad. We had dreams about it last night we wanted to win so bad.”
Burton had four hits, including a pair of doubles, and scored four runs while Courtney tripled and had four RBI.
CR took control of the contest with a five-run second. The Riders had four hits and sent nine batters to the plate in the outburst.
The Raiders did answer with three runs in the third to close within 7-3. The Riders, though, put up three more runs in the fourth to pull away again.
Courtney’s two-run triple to deep right center highlighted the inning.
“We had a great practice yesterday,” said Courtney. “We worked on a lot of hitting because she’s a great pitcher. I just made contact with the ball and it was gone. You definitely have to get your timing down. She throws so hard and she’s so tall, you have maybe a couple seconds.”
Burton remembered how in the regular-season loss to Woodbridge, Andrews was able to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam without surrendering a run.
“Every time we’ve been so close,” said Burton. “We were devastated. She shut us down. We came in, and we’re like, ‘We’re not going to lose to her any more.’”
Maddie Harris added a pair of RBI for CR with pitcher Alyssa BAll earning the win.
Andrews had three of the Raiders’ 10 hits while Yasmin Hill smacked an inside-the-park homerun in the seventh.
Playing in the rugged Henlopen Conference, where 10 of the 14 teams made the state tournament, the Riders have flown under the radar at times. But they earned the sixth seed and have now won 14 of their last 16 games.
“Our little motto is, ‘Don’t sleep on CR,’” said Courtney. “That’s what we say. Teams sometimes overlook us. This year we want to go somewhere.”
“We’re coming together at the right time,” said Damask. “That’s what it’s about in the state tournament.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or email@example.com.