Petty’s HR clinches Bucs’ 11-10 Battle of the Bat victory over Lake in 8 innings

The Milford softball team keeps The Bat for the second straight season. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

FELTON — Morgan Petty was struggling to see the ball for much of the game.

The Milford High centerfielder still managed to lay down a couple of hits through the game’s first seven innings Friday night.

When she came to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, she cranked the second pitch of the at-bat over the centerfield wall for a go-ahead solo home run in the Bucs’ 11-10 extra-innings win over Henlopen South rival Lake Forest High.

“Out of the entire game, I think that was the best pitch I saw today,” she explained.

“I struggled seeing the ball today, but when I went up there in the eighth, I remember [assistant coach Kevin] Barkley saying, ‘Petty, just get in the back of the box, look at her hip and then let it loose if it’s yours.’”

The senior’s homer clinched the team’s second consecutive Battle of the Bat — the annual rivalry game between the Bucs and Spartans — as Milford improved to 5-1.

Bucs senior C.J. Kohel (19) is greeted at home plate by her teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

The Bucs were forced to come from behind twice, including a 6-2 deficit in the sixth inning.

“It was a back-and-forth game and we’ve come from behind before, we just keep playing,” said Bucs coach Sean Brennan. “As long as there’s an out that’s still out there there’s still life, and as long as we have life we’re going to play.

“We don’t give up,” said senior catcher C.J. Kohel. “We keep going throughout it all, so don’t sleep on us because we’re one of those teams that doesn’t perform early, we come back later.”

The Bucs produced a two-out, six-run rally in the top of the sixth inning to take an 8-6 lead.

After the Spartans (1-3) responded with three in the bottom of the sixth, Milford regained the lead, 10-9.

Morgan Petty led the Bucs with three hits, including the go-ahead solo homer in the top of the eighth inning.

“Late in the game we stole the momentum, and every time we lost it we stole it right back, so that’s a great job by our girls but also a great job by the Lake Forest kids because they did a great, great job today,” Brennan said.

Freshman starting pitcher Bianca Salisbury tossed a complete game for the Bucs and went 1-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

She stranded two Lake base-runners in the bottom of the eighth to clinch the victory.

“I was kind of nervous going into the game because I knew they won last year so I knew we had to keep The Bat, but I just kept pushing through it today,” Salisbury said. “It was something different, the game was very intense. I want to have more games like that because they’re very fun.”

“Bianca’s been pitching great for us all year,” said Brennan. “She is a battler, she grinds and we have all the faith in the world in that girl. I’m happy that she’s on my team.”

Freshman Bianca Salisbury pitched all eight innings for Milford.

Freshman starting pitcher Karly Cain also tossed a complete game for the Spartans, striking out eight and retiring Milford’s first nine batters.

Lake Forest collected 13 hits, led by a three-hit game from senior shortstop Grace Aguilar and two-hit games from sophomore Jessica Reed, freshman Jenna Troyer, senior Abigail Collins and sophomore Lexi Stahre.

Junior Kayley Joiner and sophomore Rachel Brzezicki each recorded one hit.

“What a crazy game, it’s a great rivalry,” Brennan said. “My hat’s off to the Lake Forest coaching staff and to that team.”

Petty led the Bucs with three hits, including the solo homer, while sophomore outfielder Haleigh Baker had a two-hit game.

Lake Forest freshman Karly Cain struck out eight Milford batters in the one-run loss.

Kohel hit a two-run homer and then drew three straight intentional walks to finish 1-for-2 with a homer, one RBI and three runs scored.

Lake Forest built up the early 3-0 lead with one run in the bottom of the first and two more in the bottom of the third inning.

Aguilar scored on a Cain groundout to the shortstop in the first inning. Collins drove in Troyer on an RBI single and then comes around to score when Lexi Stahre reached base on a fielding error by Milford, giving the Spartans the 3-0 advantage.

Petty finally recorded the Bucs’ first hit of the game, leading off the top of the fourth inning with a single to right field.

Kohel drove her home with her two-run homer to left field just two at bats later.

“It was supposed to be off the plate, but she missed her spot and she put it right in my wheelhouse, so you have to jump on the opportunity and I just got lucky with it going over,” she said.

“I definitely feel like it gave us some sort of momentum, something to hold onto throughout the game, so it was cool.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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