The Ashburn Shooting Stars softball team, comprising players from across the Dulles District, recently won the PONY fast pitch 16-and-under national championship last weekend in Vienna, Ohio. The Shooting Stars defeated the BP All-Stars of Melville, N.Y., 1-0, in the championship game. The tournament included 106 teams from around the country.
The Shooting Stars advanced to the title game after a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Freedom in the semifinals. Karla Powell (Broad Run) hit a home run to deep center field with Emily Garcia (Park View) on base, and pitcher Caitlyn Delahaba (Broad Run) made it stand with 12 strikeouts in a complete game.
In the final, Haley Johnson (Broad Run) walked in the bottom of the third inning and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Diondra Fryer (Dominion) then delivered a single to drive in Johnson for the winning run.
"I knew we could win if we played our best," Delahaba said. "We all played very well together and felt that we deserved to win."
The Shooting Stars played strong defense throughout the tournament, going six games with zero errors, and rode the dominant pitching of Delahaba, who went undefeated in the tournament. She posted a 9-0 record, including one no-hitter and seven shutouts. Delahaba attributed a large part of her success to breaking pitches.
"My curveball was really working for me that day," Delahaba said of the final.
Coach Dan Delahaba, who is Caitlyn's father, directed the team to a 43-6 record this year. Over the last two years he has helped the Shooting Stars go 112-17. Delahaba watched the Shooting Stars play many close games throughout the tournament, but he said he knew his players had the experience to win.
"Our success comes down to a lot of teamwork and no panic," he said. "The girls played a lot of close games, but they know what it takes to win in the end. They're very experienced for their age group."