Lady Buffs dust Brevard

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Buffalo softball team succeeded in its quest for vengeance for the only two conference losses that Brevard smudged onto their record last month. Milligan struck hard Monday afternoon at Anglin Field, shutting out Brevard 1-0 in game one, and blowing them away with a 6-1 victory in game two.
   "We avenged the other two losses that they had given us, actually our only two losses in the conference," said Milligan softball coach Wes Holly. "Those were two big wins for us right there that sort of helps us stay among the top right now for the conference race. We're looking forward to it."
   Traci Harrison pitched six scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing only two hits before Brandy Waddle came in for the save after an error put a Brevard runner on first. The Lady Tornados were unable to send more than four batters to the plate per inning due to the strong pitching and quick fielding of Milligan.
   "I'm very proud of our effort today," Holly said. "The first ball game was a close game, one to nothing. We left a lot of runners on base -- we didn't get a crucial hit when we needed it. It's like I told them, it wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win."
   Brevard got the first two hits of the game, as third-baseman Ashley Huezo hit a single and stole second on a wild pitch in the third and Andrea Bailey had a base hit in the top of the fourth. Both runners were left on base.
   In answer to Brevard's hits, the Lady Buffaloes got down to business in the bottom of the fourth, with three hits and a run. Junior first-baseman Brooke Davis opened the fourth for Milligan with a single and Megan Aldridge took first base on a walk. Sophomore Rebecca Gilley, batting 2-3, hit a short bunt that confused the entire infield and loaded the bases.
   After Amanda Verner flew out to first base, freshman right-fielder Leah Fritts took a base on another bunt, collecting the game's only RBI as Davis rounded home plate. As Harrison went to first, Aldridge was caught out at home on a fielder's choice from shortstop Bailey. Brevard pitcher Rachel Howard threw a strikeout to end the inning, leaving three Milligan runners on base.
   "Offensively, Milligan was really strong today," said Brevard assistant coach Don McGeary. Head coach Kelly Jones declined to comment.
   "They hit the ball very well and we didn't. It's just the opposite at our place. We hit the ball well there and they didn't. They played two good games today," McGeary said.
   Other than a hit by Gilley for Milligan in the sixth, the remainder of the game was hitless, and Milligan shut out the Lady Tornados 1-0. Harrison took the win, Waddle had the save, and Howard shouldered the loss for Brevard.
   Milligan opened the offense full force in game two, washing away Brevard's hopes of a split as eight of the nine starters got at least one of Milligan's 11 hits. Waddle threw eight strikeouts and allowed only four hits and one run. The junior totaled nine strikeouts for the day after striking out one batter in game one's save.
   "Our pitchers did an exceptional job today spotting the ball," Coach Holly said. "They did a good job and we hit the ball a little bit better the second ball game and put some runs on the board. We hadn't played for eight days because of the weather, but like I said, I'm very proud of them."
   Milligan scored twice in the first inning as catcher Shelby Banion, 2-of-4 from the plate, got on base with a single and Fritts bunted her way to first and stole second. Banion made it home on a sacrifice bunt from Waddle and Gilley sent Fritts home with a single.
   Joining Banion with two hits were Milligan sluggers Davis, Waddle, Gilley, and Aldridge, who all batted 2-for-3. Aldridge hit a double and collected 3 RBIs while Waddle and Gilley had an RBI each.
   Courtney Ruth scored Milligan's third run in the second inning, smacking a single, stealing second and third bases and scoring on a Brevard error. After Banion hit a single, she stole second base, drawing a throw from Brevard catcher Heidi Morgan that didn't have a Tornado glove to fall into. Ruth took advantage of the distraction to race home.
   "You always hope to play better at home, and I think everybody plays a little better at home," said Coach McGeary. "We just had one of those days where we didn't play very well and Milligan did. The results are two wins for them."
   In the bottom of the third, Davis and Waddle hit singles and Aldridge followed suit with another base hit. The throw was off target, allowing Aldridge to advance to second and Davis and Waddle to score.
   In the top of the fifth, Caitlin Jascur and Krystal Westnedge each hit singles for two of Brevard's four hits. During Milligan's turn at the plate, Gilley hit a single and went home on Aldridge's double.
   The Lady Tornados tried to regroup in the final inning, as Bonnie Adams got a base hit and stole second. Westnedge hit a double to right field that scored Adams, but a grounder to Waddle turned into Brevard's third out as she tossed it to Davis at first base.
   "We've got a rough week this week," said Holly. "We go to Kentucky Wednesday and play Union up there two games and then we're at home Thursday with Tennessee-Wesleyan, which is two big games. If we can win out this week, I feel like we're in pretty good shape.
   "That's why we're telling the girls 'you've just got to stay in there. Everybody's coming at you now, so you've got to play your best game. You have to bring your A-game to the field'," Holly added. "I feel like if we get back in the groove, get in a practice or two for these games this week, hopefully we'll be in pretty good shape."
   Waddle received the win, and Susan Wynne took the loss for Brevard. The two conference wins put Milligan at 14-2 in the conference, with a 21-7 overall record.