HRs highlight ABAC softball sweep

Apr. 13—ABAC softball came to Couch Field in Milledgeville Wednesday ready to hit and score.

In Game 1 of the doubleheader with then GCAA leading Georgia Military College, the Fillies of Tifton hit four home runs. In Game 2, they ended Addie Moss' string of 21 innings without giving up an earned run. The first game went eight innings and was decided by a home run, 9-8 the final score, while in the nightcap freshman left-hander Jaci Smiley started her own scoreless innings streak with a 4-0 complete-game shutout.

The results put GMC and ABAC tied for first place by record in the GCAA, each with a 12-4 mark. ABAC, though, has the tiebreaker winning the regular-season series over the Bulldogs of coach Ashley Bunn 3-1. GMC looks to bounce back in the win column as it hosts last-place South Georgia State today (April 13) at Couch Field.

Bunn used Hailey Daughtry as her Game 1 starter in the circle Wednesday. GMC led only one time the entire day of softball, and that was after one completed inning under overcast skies. The Bulldogs had three straight hits in the bottom of the first off Filly starter Kaylee Barrett, and it was Kaitlyn Hallman's RBI single bringing in the first run.

Though there was an out made at the plate on that same play, the 1-0 lead for GMC stood through two innings. But from the third inning on, it was all ABAC on the strength of the long ball. Lexi Metts, the visitor's leadoff hitter, launched a two-run home run after Elli Bryan's single to start the top of the third. One out later, Carter Gore went deep upping ABAC's advantage to 3-1.

GMC answered in the bottom half as Hallman delivered again on her second turn at-bat. Karleigh Taylor, who bats leadoff for Bunn, was in scoring position with two outs when Hallman smashed the ball to third base. Taylor scored from a bad throw to first base.

ABAC staked its biggest lead, 7-2, in the top of the fifth, on four hits, three of which came with two outs. Emma Riner, Bulldog outfielder, made a running catch to the wall in left field for the second out with a Filly on base. Ava Roland, the freshman catcher from Dodge County, went to right field, found the wall, and drove home the run.

It wasn't over, though, as Ashley Archibald singled and Anna Hutchinson homered.

After that round-tripper, the ABAC offense went silent for a spell with one baserunner in the sixth and seventh innings and a double play turned by Bulldog third baseman Reign Williams in the seventh.

Back to the fifth inning, where in the GMC turn there was a rally to tie the score 7-7 with three hits, three walks and a run-scoring error. It was Hallman who for the second time would reach on a miscue with both Taylor and Hudson Smith on base. Taylor scored, then Williams walked to fill the bases.

ABAC changed pitchers, putting Hutchinson in the circle. She walked her first hitter, Moss, then singles by Paris Kirby and Alyssa Jones leveled things up.

It stayed that way until the eighth, and it began with an error on GMC. Hutchinson's second home run put ABAC up 9-7. That extra run was important for the visitors as the home eighth began with two walks. In an unusual occurrence, Barrett returned to pitching duties in the same game. She did not go five innings to qualify for the win, but earned a save despite allowing one run to score.

Moss was GMC's starting pitcher in Game 2 after throwing a shutout at East Georgia on March 29 and a 3-0 three-hit shutout over Georgia Highlands on April 6 in Rome where she struck out nine and walked none. There was also a start at South Georgia State April 4 where GMC won 8-5, but all five runs — scored in the seventh inning — were unearned.

She won GCAA Pitcher of the Week on Monday for her efforts.

In her Wednesday start, ABAC got one run right away on three first-inning hits. Alli Eidson got the RBI safety, but then the turn ended on a catcher-to-third base-to-first base double play.

Smiley, though, made her case for a weekly honor on Couch Field. Through the first six innings, she gave up four hits and two walks but no runs. GMC's best chances came in the first inning, but two runners were stranded in scoring position. Then there was Hallman's one-out double in the bottom of the sixth. Kirby singled with two outs, but Hallman was thrown out at home.

ABAC scored two times in the top of the second as the Fillies loaded the bases with one out. Metts, a Game 1 home run hitter, tapped a ball that would not roll foul and no one could get to for an out. With two down, the rarest of errors, on a throw-back to the pitcher, allowed ABAC to go up 3-0.

Moss gave up just three hits from the third to the sixth still trailing 3-0, but it went to 4-0 in the seventh with Eidson getting her second RBI single. Moss' only walk was also in the seventh, but Williams turned her second double play of the day.

The Bulldogs did not folds things up quietly in the home seventh, and all the noise came with two outs as Riner snuck a single through and the shortstop couldn't handle Taylor's liner. The bases were full, but ABAC exited catching a flyout.