By Rick Sheek
Milligan College’s softball team started Tuesday afternoon with the hot bats, and wrapped up the doubleheader by going down swinging.
In between the Lady Buffs split with Virginia-Wise. They took the opener 9-0, before coming up short in the finale 6-4 at Anglin Field.
The final game saw Milligan down 6-0 with two out in the bottom of the seventh, rally within two runs and leave the bases loaded.
“We showed a little fight there,” Milligan coach Wes Holly said. “We played pretty well that first ball game, but then I just don’t think we focused when we came back out. Just because you beat them nine-nothing, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to do it the second game.”
Sophomore Chancli Connatser fired a three-hitter in the shutout, striking out eight with no walks. Junior first baseman Abby Hughes batted 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
Brittany DiRobbio, the senior left fielder, was also 3 for 4. Freshman catcher Sarah Arrowood and junior second baseman Emily Biggs were each 2 for 3, while sophomore shortstop Krista Lambdin hit 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
The Buffs (6-8) grabbed a 2-0 advantage in the first inning. DiRobbio clubbed a run-scoring double and Arrowood slapped a run-scoring single.
Wise (5-9) stranded a runner on first base in the first, and was sent down 1-2-3 by Connatser in the second and third innings. Milligan was also retired in order in the second.
DiRobbio led off the third with a single, but was gunned down attempting to steal. Arrowood also singled, and was stranded.
The Cavs left a runner on in the fourth. The bottom half of that inning saw Milligan increase its advantage to 4-0 thanks to run-scoring doubles from Hughes and freshman right fielder Megan Nicol, after Biggs got the flurry started with a double.
Wise left its final baserunner on first base in the fifth. The Cavs were retired 1-2-3 in the sixth.
The Buffs pushed the cushion to 6-0 in the fifth on run-scoring singles from Connatser and Hughes. Sophomore third baseman Maleah Wolfenbarger tagged a run-scoring single and Lambdin delivered a two-run single to end the affair on the slaughter rule.
Wise’s Lannie Johnston lasted until the top of the fifth, when Lambdin led off with a double. She was roughed up for nine hits, five earned runs, struck out two and walked one.
Kaylla Holdway was touched for seven hits and yielded four earned runs. He didn’t get a batter out in the sixth, when Milligan rapped five consecutive singles.
“Give Wise credit,” Holly said. “They came at us that second game. That’s what I told the girls, you’ve got to play every game.”
Junior center fielder Camille Olvey and Connatser each stole bases in the opener.
Connatser also went the distance in the finale. She allowed four hits, four earned runs, fanned four and walked two.
“We made the error right there that really got the momentum going for Wise,” Holly said. “We should have been able to make some adjustments there, and we didn’t, with our pitch selection.”
The second contest was scoreless through five innings. The Cavs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, before Alyssa Zebrowski ripped a run-scoring single and another runner crossed on an error.
Kristina Romualdo plated a run, a runner was walked in and Allyson Reece drove in a score. Wise was rolling 5-0.
The Buffs left a runner on second base in the sixth. In the seventh, Romualdo doubled in another run for Wise.
Chelsey Booth retired the first two Buffs in their final at-bat. She then walked a pair of batters and hit one to load the bases.
DiRobbio slammed a two-run single, Lambdin followed with a two-run double and Booth was pulled. The southpaw yielded four hits and struck out five with five walks and two hit batters.
Reliever Ashleigh Roenker took the mound and yielded two walks and got the hook, before the comeback was halted when freshman second baseman Lacey Huskins lined a shot off the closer Holdway to Zebrowski at shortstop.
DiRobbio batted 2 for 4 in the finale. He doubled in the first inning, but was stranded.
Wolfenbarger stole third base in the third, but was stranded along with another runner. Arrowood threw out a runner attempting to steal, while Biggs turned a double play.
Hughes led off the second with a single, before being gunned down on a steal attempt.
“We just came out a little flat, didn’t execute on bunts,” Holly said. “Two innings in a row the lead-off batter’s on and we don’t move her. We’re going to have to learn to stay mental each ball game, but we made a great comeback right there.”