Milligan College ended spring break with a bang as the Lady Buffaloes softball team swept past the University of the Cumberlands in a non-conference twin-bill Friday afternoon at Anglin Field.
Sophomore pitcher Chancli Connatser (8-7 1.49 ERA) earned the win in both games, holding the Lady Patriots scoreless in the seventh in a bases-loaded situation as the Buffs won by 3-1 and 7-1 tallies.
With Milligan leading 3-0 in the sixth, freshman Megan Nicol came on in relief of Connatser and surrendered a home run to Cumberlands first baseman Ashley Wampler to cut the lead to 3-1.
Nicol then was reached for consecutive hits by the first three hitters the Pats sent to the plate in the seventh, forcing head coach Wes Holly to turn to Connatser to put out the fire.
Maleah Wolfenbarger made a play at second base on a ground ball off the bat of Pats catcher Brittny Lovelace, fielding the hard grounder and relaying home for the putout.
“That was a big play,” said Connatser. “When I got the call I just wanted to get outs and let the defense work for me. Maleah made a nice relay throw and that gave me confidence to get the last two outs.”
Connatser retired the next hitter on a strikeout and got the final out on another ground ball to the infield, giving Milligan (12-10 overall) the victory in the opener.
The Buffs drew first blood in game one in the third frame as Nicol singled with one away and Camille Olvey drew a two-out walk from Pats starter Angela Steuer. Sarah Arrowood then delivered a hit that delivered Nicol to the plate.
Olvey scored when the relay from the outfield was errant, giving Milligan a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Wolfenbarger delivered a single that plated Abby Hughes, who had singled earlier in the frame to make it a 3-0 game for Milligan.
The Lady Buffs ran themselves out of a potentially big inning as Mackenzie Lilley was thrown out at third on the relay throw — and Wolfenbarger was caught off second base on a grounder to short by Nicol.
“We got a little reckless on the bases,” said Holly. “But it’s aggressiveness that I’m looking for, and sometimes it can bite you. I was pleased with how we played though. We are starting to swing the bats well and we played well defensively.”
The Buffs put on their hitting shoes against Patriots starter Jess Speake as Rachel Ingleby registered a 3-for-3 day with two doubles and two RBI and the Buffs scored six in the fifth frame to seal the deal.
It didn’t hurt that on each Milligan hit in the fifth, the Pats had an error that gave the Buffs extra bases and extra opportunities to score.
The score was knotted at 1-1 in the last of the fifth when former Unaka standout Lacey Huskins opened with a single to left. Krista Lambdin then reached when Pats left fielder Shelley Powell dropped her line drive, putting Buffs runners on second and third.
Olvey drove a single to center to plate both runners and she scooted to second when the Pats center fielder bobbled the ball. Arrowood and Nicols each reached on infield errors by Cumberland as Olvey scored and the rout was on.
For Milligan, Lilley was 2-for-3 to back Ingleby, and Olvey had two RBI. Nicol finished 2-for-2 effort by adding a hit in game two as she continues to swing a hot bat — raising her average to .375.
Freshman pitcher Samantha Mahala (Johnson County) earned her first save as she pitched two scoreless innings of relief, showing good control with no walks and one strikeout.