By Kyle Shaner
BRADFORD – Freshman Skipp Miller struck out 19 Versailles batters in the Bradford softball team’s 2-0 victory on Friday.
Miller allowed just one hit and one walk in Friday’s shutout victory, losing the no-hitter on a two-out single by Mallory George in the seventh inning.
“She’s impressive, and she’s getting better,” Bradford softball coach Shon Shaffer said of his freshman pitcher. “Her very first outing she had 17 strikeouts, and I didn’t even realize it until looking at the book afterwards. So she’s something special. I smile. And she’s getting better. She’s really mastering some of her movement pitches.”
Versailles’ only base runners on Friday were George with her hit in the seventh inning and Kate Stammen drawing a one-out walk in the first inning.
“We run against a buzz saw like that,” Versailles coach Chris Floyd said. “I mean she’s probably running up there 62, 63 miles an hour. Yesterday against Marion (Local), we were facing somebody throwing 35. So that’s a huge adjustment to make in one day.”
Bradford, meanwhile, had seven hits and drew four walks. The Railroaders had base runners in every inning, but it took until the fifth for them to finally get a run across the plate.
The first inning Bradford had two runners thrown out at third base. First Hailey McEldowney caught a fly ball in deep center and threw out a runner at third then catcher Kate Stammen caught a runner trying to steal third.
“Awesome defense,” Floyd said of Hailey McEldowney’s play in center. “I mean look at the range she was covering, with the wind today, she was probably covering 40 yards, 30.”
In the second inning Versailles threw out another runner at third on a fielder’s choice grounder then the Tigers got out of the inning with a grounder to Kami McEldowney at short, turning a double play with a tag and throw out.
“It took us a while to put some points on the board, but we were hitting it all game long,” Shaffer said. “A lot of times it was just right at them. We couldn’t generate runs. I was starting to have a complex over there at third base; I was getting everybody thrown out.”
After stranding four runners in the first four innings, Bradford finally broke through in the fifth. Chelsea Gill had a two-out double and scored on a RBI base hit by Emma Canan. The inning ended with Stammen catching Canan stealing third – the fifth Railroader of the game to get out while trying to advance to third.
“Our whole approach is pitch to bad contact, make sure we play solid defense (and) keep the other team low scoring,” Floyd said.
The Railroaders scored the game’s final run in the sixth inning. Miller led off the frame with a single then her courtesy runner, Tristin Booker, scored on a one-out RBI double by Bianca Keener.
“This is a pretty resolved team,” Shaffer said. “We’re composed beyond our years. We’re starting three freshmen, and still the entire dugout had composure and knew we were going to be in this at the end. They just kept plugging away.”
Versailles managed to limit the damage, though, and stranded two runners in the inning.
Bradford had two outs in the seventh when George broke up Millers’ no-hitter with a single into center. Rachel Lyons then grounded to short – just the third time all game Versailles put the ball into play – to end the contest.
“I think we needed to see that so we’re able to adjust when it comes tournament time because that’s the kind of pitcher you’re going to face during the tournament,” Floyd said of facing Miller. “And we talked about making adjustments. We tried a couple things. Finally at the end we figured her out … a little too late.”
Canan was 2-for-2 with a walk and a RBI for Bradford. Keener was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Gill was 2-for-3 with a double and scored a run. Miller was 1-for-3. Elisa Martinez walked twice and reached on an error.