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Fast track! Milford All-Stars combine speed, aggressive play in LLSWS win over Canada

By Rick Menning

The Milford Major Division All-Stars were literally off to the races in their all-important 4-0 victory against Alberta, Canada at the Little League Softball World Series in Greenville, North Carolina on Thursday night.

Three straight hits and three stolen bases in the top of the first inning staked the New England Region representatives to a quick 2-0 advantage in their second game of the Series that was witnessed by a national television audience and a large crowd inside Stallings Stadium.

The win, which was delayed for almost an hour by lightning in the area, advances Manager Mike Bonanno's squad into another critical contest on Friday as Columbia, Missouri is on deck. Columbia defeated Italy in its elimination bracket game earlier on Thursday. First pitch on Friday is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN+.

The Milford All-Stars rebounded from Wednesday's tough extra-inning loss with a determined effort on Thursday at the Little League Softball World Series. From left are Sophia Horvack, Leah Corris, Emily Speringo, Ariella DiOrio, Norah Bove, Chloe Capalbo, Nyla Jaser, Riley Fagan-Davies, Gabby Rodriguez, Maddy Bonanno, Lily Stankevich, Maddie Deldin and Julia Scibek

Lily Stankevich lined a sharp RBI single to left/center field, and Chloe Capalbo followed that with another run-scoring base hit through the left side to account for the early scoring.

Those hits were productive because the Connecticut champions came out aggressive and in warrior mode with relentless execution on the basepaths.

After Julia Scibek got things rolling with a one-out base hit to center field, she immediately stole second base and then reached third base on an error before Stankevich drove her in for the initial run.

Express lanes

The station-to-station plays continued as Stankevich advanced to second base on a passed ball and then, without stopping, scooted right over to third base before Canada even saw her make that break.

That hustle paid off with Capalbo's rip into the outfield. Maddie Deldin, who had walked, also had a stolen base in that inning.

Milford added its first insurance run in the third inning when Stankevich reached on an error, stole her second base in as many attempts, and scored on Maddy Bonanno's perfect RBI sacrifice bunt to the first-base side. Deldin had yet another walk and stolen base as Connecticut amassed five total through the first three innings and six in the game.

Milford All-Stars batter Maddy Bonanno lays down a textbook sacrifice bunt in the third inning of New England's game against Canada. She also pitched a complete game with six strikeouts. (Photo credit: Little League International Baseball and Softball.)

Stankevich, who reached on an infield single in the fifth inning, proceeded to steal second and third base. She then raced home on pinch-hitter Sophia Horvack's RBI ground out to shortstop for Connecticut's fourth run.

In all, Stankevich accounted for four of Milford's six stolen bases in the contest.

Shortstop Gabby Rodriguez, who played a major role in all three outs in the sixth and final inning, also doubled in the fourth inning for Connecticut.

Rodriguez not only threw over to first baseman Maddie Deldin for the 6-3 putout, but she also snagged a liner for the second out and threw over to third base on a fielder's choice grounder for the last out of the game.

Great glovework

With the Alberta girls having a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning, left fielder Chloe Capalbo raced halfway between the left-field line and the fence in foul territory to make a sensational catch.

Milford's infield was once again money with one smooth play after another. Maddie Deldin was at the receiving end of six groundouts -- three from Gabby Rodriguez, two from Julia Scibek and one from Maddy Bonanno.

Inside the circle

Maddy Bonanno, meanwhile, was a picture of confidence and focus as Milford's pitcher totaled six strikeouts including two huge Ks in the fifth inning.

With two on and no outs in the fifth inning, Bonanno excelled with two amazing strikeouts after catcher Ariella DiOrio made an alert catch behind the plate on an Alberta, Canada bunt attempt for the first out.

Then, with two on and one out in the sixth inning, she relied on her fortress defense to close out the victory.

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