BEAR - The Polytech High softball players took the field for the state championship game all sporting 20 braids in the back of their hair as part of what they termed ‘Dread the Dread.’
Each dread represented a win this season and the idea was to add another braid with a win in the title game.
Turns out, that 20th one also showed how many runs the Panthers scored.
Polytech, the fourth seed, scored eight runs in the top of the first inning as an offensive explosion led to its first softball championship with a 20-0 win over third-seeded Caravel at Red Lion Christian Academy. It is believed to be the highest run total ever in a DIAA softball final.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that,” said Polytech coach Jenn Bradshaw. “It was just incredible. ... I’ve been trying to do this since I was 15 playing high school ball.”
“I’m running on four hours of sleep right now because I couldn’t sleep with the anticipation,” said senior outfield Brandi Dalious. “Going through the morning routine, I was trying to imagine all the possible ways we could win. I never expected that we would score eight runs in the first inning. We just went crazy.”
Polytech entered Saturday 0-4 in state championship games this year as a school (field hockey, boys’ basketball, wrestling and girls’ lacrosse).
“I think all our seniors were tired of being the second-place school,” Dalious said. “We all wanted to take our crown.”
Senior pitcher Shaina Reed was on that field hockey team that lost to Cape Henlopen in November. She also was the starting pitcher two years ago when the Panthers fell to Laurel in the softball finals.
While Reed had a ton of run support before she even took the mound, she was still her usual dominant self. She tossed a two-hitter to earn the shutout.
“To finally win one is awesome,” Reed said.
“We knew we had to win this time,” said junior Hayley Freiss. “Shaina Reed has been doing so well for so long and we were so close my freshman year. We just had to get it this time.”
Polytech (21-1) scored at least one run in every inning except the sixth. Caravel had only allowed a total of 18 runs during the 18-game regular season.
The Panthers belted three home runs, starting with a bomb from Taylor Pechin in the second inning that landed in the trees way behind the right field fence. Dalious had a three-run shot later in the inning to left while Whitney DeMora cleared the wall in right-center for a solo homer in the third.
All the Panthers’ eight runs in the first came with two outs. DeMora and Pechin had back-to-back doubles for the first two runs in the game before the floodgates opened.
Amanda Waishes beat out an infield single to knock in a run before Kaitlyn Stahre found a hole through the infield to score another. Freiss plated both of them with a double to the wall in center.
“Everyone was just hitting the ball really well, so I knew I had to keep it going and get my teammates in,” Freiss said. “Nobody was laying down. It seemed like everyone was hitting. One through nine was doing well.”
By the time the first inning was over Dalious and Reed added RBI singles to give Polytech an 8-0 lead before its players played an inning in the field.
“I didn’t tell them anything,” Bradshaw said. “I just let them roll with it. But in my mind, anything could happen. I didn’t feel safe at 8-0 because they’re such a talented team and a talented program.”
And Bradshaw’s fears almost came true when Caravel loaded the bases with one out thanks to three Polytech errors.
But Reed and company escaped any damage. Dalious made a sliding catch in left for the second out and Reed forced a flyout to right to end the inning.
After that, it was right back on the offensive.
“We knew that they could score runs so we had to keep the pressure on,” Reed said. “We had to keep scoring runs and that’s exactly what we did.”