Delaney Long is having a terrific senior season.
It almost never happened.
Long is a senior on the Franklin Towne Charter softball team, and she’s been playing the sport her entire life. But after the last softball season ended, she was on the fence about playing, and if she was leaning one way, it was to focus on other things other than the sport.
Then in October, one of her biggest fans, her grandpop, passed away after an illness. He loved nothing more than going to Long’s games and showing his support for her. Instead of giving it up, she decided to give it her all.
“My grandfather passed away, he was our biggest supporter beside my mom and dad,” said Long, who lives in Parkwood. “I did it for him. I know he’d be happy because we’re doing well. He was always my biggest supporter.”
Long decided to dedicate this year to her grandfather, and it’s turning out to be a very nice honor.
The Warriors are undefeated headed into the Public League playoffs. They’ve already picked up victories over Central and Philadelphia Academy Charter.
Those are two of the best teams in the Public League, and the winners of the past two Public League championships.
Those wins were even bigger because Franklin Towne finished runner-up the past two seasons. Winning regular season games are nice, but the goal is to win in late May.
“This year has been very good, we’re playing really well,” said Long, the Warriors’ starting catcher and cleanup hitter. “I knew it right away, like once I saw the group of girls we had, I had a feeling this was going to be a great season. Our past two seasons, we went undefeated to the championship and then lost, but this year, I knew we had a chance at being pretty good.
“I always want to win, I never think about losing. Losing was really tough. We lost to Central and PACS, they’re both very good teams. The other teams we verse in the league are good, but those are top teams, so beating them was great. The Central game was really good, it was 1-0. Both pitchers did great.”
The Warriors have a great pitcher in Aubrey Seider, and that certainly helps. And she works extremely well with Long.
While Long enjoys being the team leader in RBIs and smashing the ball all over the field, she loves being the catcher, not only because she enjoys the position, but also because she has turned into the perfect leader at a position that calls for great leadership.
“I just watch and whenever they’re doing bad, I make sure they stay up and never let them get down,” said Long, who gave up playing travel softball and is focusing on high school. “There’s always the next play, next at-bat, next game, you can always do better. I just make sure they know that everyone makes mistakes, and you shouldn’t get down on yourself.
“I’m the starting catcher and a captain, so I help the girls when they need it. If the coaches aren’t here, they expect us to jump up and take care of things. And I really like helping them. It makes everyone better.”
Long has had a lot of practice at her position. Growing up, her sister Riley was a pitcher. She graduated from St. Hubert and is now playing for DeSales. While training with your sibling can be tough, it certainly helped the sisters.
“It was sometimes hard, but it was great,” Long said of catching her sister. “It worked out because she’s a pitcher and I’m a catcher. We helped each other and we always talk about softball. She tells me a lot about college softball. She’s doing great.”
While the Warriors are preparing for a long run in the postseason, Long knows the end of the season means the end of her softball career.
Next year she’s going to Community College of Philadelphia. She hopes to finish there in two years and then go to a college where she will major in either physical therapy or sports medicine. She’s leaning heavily toward physical therapy.
“I know I’ll miss softball,” said Long, who works as a food runner and hostess at the FOP. “I’ve wanted to work in physical therapy for a while. I thought about sports medicine, but I want a job where I can help people get better. It just seems like a job I would really like.”
But she’s going out with a memorable season.
Not only did she help the Warriors finish atop the Public League, she was the most valuable player of her team.
Not bad for someone who almost didn’t play.
The Warriors have been in this spot before, but the goal isn’t to make the championship this year. The goal is to win it.
And Long believes she and her teammates have the potential to be the best team in the Public League.
“That meant so much, because we have a great team,” Long said. “I feel like I play a big role on the team. They said I led the team in RBIs and when I go to bat, they know something is going to happen if I get a hold of the ball.
“We really want to win the championship. That’s what we’re playing for. I’m glad I played this year.”