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Delaneys softball team works toward improving

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays — now just the Rays — entered the ranks of professional baseball, they were by far one of the worst teams in the game.

Slowly but surely, the team improved. Today, the Rays are one of the best teams in the major leagues.

The Delaneys softball team of the Faywest Men's Fastpich Softball League hope to follow the blueprint laid out by the Rays and become one of the best teams in their league.

Put together by a group of Southmoreland graduates, Delaneys struggled to be competitive in its first year of existence. The team finished 1-15 and was swept out of the playoffs early.

But the team kept most of its young core of players together, and even though the record thus far doesn't reflect it, Delaneys has dramatically improved and continues to get better as the season rolls along.

Before posting its first win of the season July 7, the team had lost three one-run games in its last five outings, and lost two more by three runs or less.

“Last year, we were nervous and kicked the ball all over the place,” said pitcher Josh King. “It was my first year of pitching and I really struggled as well. This season, we have improved on defense and our pitching is better with the addition of Dylan Banasick and our outfield is one of the fastest in the league.”

Left fielder Jake DePalm has been a pleasant surprise for Delaneys. DePalm is small in stature, but is by far the fastest player in the league. His speed at the top of the lineup has helped put pressure on opposing pitchers and catchers, giving the hitters behind him an opportunity to see better pitches to hit.

Center fielder Ryan Bossart has filled the No. 2 slot in the lineup very nicely and has started to understand the game better.

“The hitting is finally starting to come around and our players are becoming more comfortable with more experience,” said Bossart. “I am excited to be a part of this team and to see how far we have come. The whole team is better. Hitting, defense, and pitching have all improved.”

At the start of the season, King was the team's only pitcher. The team has since added Banasick to the rotation, and now, Delaneys has two of the youngest arms in the game taking the mound.

“Dylan has been a great pickup for us,” said King. “His dad has pitched for over 25 years in this league, and his experience is showing in the way Dylan is throwing the ball.”

But the team is still young and experiencing growing pains.

To ease the pain, the team has also added two veteran players in the form of shortstop Gary Eicher and backup catcher B.J. King. The experience that these two players has brought to the team has been a steadying influence on the younger players. They have offered advice and leadership, and the players have responded well.

In the July 7 contest, Banasick scattered seven hits over seven innings, and Bossart added an inside-the-park home run to spark Delaneys to a 10-4 win over Pennsville. The win was the first of the season for the team, leaving it with a 1-9 record in 2013. As a team, Delaneys pounded out a season-high 13 hits and committed just one error in the win over Pennsville.

When King was asked what his motivation for putting his team in the league was, he responded by saying he has been a fan of the game since he was a little kid.

“I remember watching my dad play with his friends and all of the good times they shared just playing ball together,” said King. “The town is beautiful, and the field is a great place to play. I just want to help restore the league to its glory days when people would pack Loucks Park to watch the games.”

Mark King is a freelance writer.

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