The Havre de Grace Little League Junior Softball All-Stars are Maryland State Champs.
The Havre de Grace Little League Junior Softball All-Stars are Maryland State Champs. (Courtesy of Julie Kitts)

The Havre de Grace Little League Junior (13-14) Softball All-Stars won the Maryland State Championship Monday night in Willards.

Havre de Grace beat District 6 (Dorchester Tri-City), 15-2, for the title. The team advances to East Region play which is scheduled for July 19-25 in Orange, Conn.

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The Havre de Grace Major (11-12) All-Stars fell just short in trying to win a state title in Sharpsburg at South County Little League.

The team reached Monday’s championship round unbeaten, but fell, 5-4, to Berlin Little League, forcing the winner-take-all game Tuesday evening. Berlin also won that game, 8-7, in walk-off fashion.

In the Junior’s win, Madison Johnson pitched six innings for the win, striking out five. She allowed a walk and two earned runs.

“We’ve come a long way the last three years and all played with confidence and just kept on having fun,” Johnson said. “We’re not done yet, though. We’re gonna go up to Connecticut and try to make Havre de Grace proud.”

Offensively, Lacey Swart and Mischa Spencer led the way. Swart was 3-4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored and Spencer was 3-5 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs.

Natalie Bucci (two runs, RBI), Johnson (double, two runs, RBI), Bri Walls (two RBIs, run), Laura Hughes (double RBI, two runs), and Lanie Mentzer (two RBIs, two runs) all had two hits apiece.

“Still can’t believe we’re state champs,” Lanie Mentzer said. “We’ve been working so hard and it finally payed off.”

Taryn Kitts added a double, two RBIs and a run.

“It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you can do anything you put your mind to and I knew we were gonna come out on top," Bucci said. “These girls have passion and fire.”

The team opened play Saturday with an 16-0, four-inning win over Hancock. Johnson threw just 45 pitches, striking out eight and allowing just one hit.

Walls and Swart both went 3-3 and Hughes added two hits and four RBIs. Spencer, Johnson and Kitts also had two hits each.

Havre de Grace also won Sunday, 8-1, over Dorchester-Tri City. Johnson pitched a complete game, striking out eight. She walked one and gave up four hits.

Walls (3-4) tripled, doubled and drove in three runs. Spencer (two runs) and Johnson (triple, two runs, RBI) both had two hits.

“It’s very humbling to watch these kids play ball. They have matured as players tremendously over the last few seasons and are firing on all cylinders right now,” Manager Chris Mentzer said. “I’m blessed to be a part of this program and to have these kids in my life. We’re gonna head to Connecticut and proudly play for the 'H' on the front of our jerseys and hopefully make our city proud.”

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The Havre de Grace Junior All-Stars are Natalie Bucci, Audrey Grimm, Laura Hughes, Madison Johnson, Alysa Kaptain, Taryn Kitts, Delaney Mentzer, Tatyana Sanchez, Demetria Sarafis, Mischa Spencer, Lacey Swart, Brianna Walls, manager Chris Mentzer and coaches Fred Hughes and Jessica Pizarro.

Major’s fall short

Prior to the back-to-back losses, the major girls team posted three wins.

Game one was a 2-0 win over Caroline County. A strong pitching performance from Shiloh Wall (13 strikeouts) who allowed just one hit. “Good base running and timely bunting helped us to a win,” Manager JR Strong said.

Kinsey Mentzer and Dayley Veres scored on passed balls.

In game two, Havre de Grace beat the Brunswick Outlaws, 23-7.

Lillia Dalton pitched the win. Havre de Grace came out swinging in the second inning, scoring 22 runs and batting around the lineup four times. “All girls played amazing in both games,” Strong said.

Leading the offense were Dalton (two-RBI double); Autum Keyes (2-2); Mentzer (3-4, four RBIs); Veres (2-2, two RBIs); Emma Bowman (2-2, six RBIs); and Katie Burr (four walks, two RBIs). Every single batter scored at least once during the game.

In the third game, Havre de Grace did beat Berlin, 10-8. Havre de Grace scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning, starting with an over the fence home run by Keyes. Wall went 2-4 with an RBI and Dalton was 2-3 with two RBIs.

Mentzer was 2-3 with two doubles and an RBI; Veres was 2-2 with an RBI; and Carlie Hopps was 2-2 with two RBIs.

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