Decatur Slaughters Crisfield 33-0 in Opener

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s varsity softball team clobbered Crisfield, 33-0, on Tuesday in the season opener on the road, leaving little doubt this could be a special season for the Seahawks.

Decatur featured dominant pitching and an explosive offense on Tuesday against Crisfield, getting significant contributions from just about every player on the roster. Freshmen pitchers Maddie Justice and Holly Melson combined on a two-hit shutout over five innings in the game shortened by the slaughter rule.

With just one senior on the roster, it would appear on paper the Stephen Decatur varsity softball team is in a rebuilding mode this season, but with a couple of juniors and a solid corps of underclassmen, the Seahawks should be able to pick up where they left off last year.

Decatur went 15-3 in the regular season last year and tied Bennett for the Bayside South title. The Seahawks garnered a number-four seed in the state Class 2A-East region and advanced to the region semifinals before bowing out of the state tournament. Such success has been the norm in recent years for the Decatur softball program under long-time manager Don Howard, and despite losing many of the starters from last year’s team, the Seahawks could come close to the same lofty goals.

All-Everything pitcher Ali Justice is the lone senior on the roster and will be out of her usual position on the mound for the Seahawks this season. Justice has signed to play third base at Catawba College next year and will move over to the hot corner this year in preparation for the move to the next level.

There will be Justice on the mound for the Seahawks this season, however, as Ali’s sister, freshman Maddie Justice, will start a lot of games on the mound for Decatur. Joining the younger Justice in the rotation will be freshman Holly Melson and junior Blakelyn Harrington among others.

With Ali Justice at third base, the infield might be the strongest unit for the Seahawks this year, particularly the left side where junior Shelby Jones is cozying up to the shortstop position. Another junior, Shae Nottingham will see most of the innings at first base, while sophomore Emily DiNardo will likely hold down second base for the Seahawks.

Around the outfield, Decatur will start veteran junior Miranda Conaway in left with sophomore Erika Anders set to play center. Freshman Katie Colgan will see most of the innings in right. Junior Blessing Aroh and sophomore Chelsea Smith will also get a lot of rotations in the outfield. Handling the pitchers behind the plate will be sophomore Kylie Nottingham, who started most of the games last year at catcher. Nottingham will be backed up by Smith.

After the road win over Crisfield on Tuesday, the Seahawks play four straight home games including Washington last night, Cambridge-South Dorchester today, Snow Hill on Monday and Parkside next Thursday.