Abbott’s pitching, grand slam leads Lady Bucs to Battle of the Bat win

MILFORD – Prior to Tuesday’s annual Battle of the Bat showdown with Lake Forest, Milford High senior Morgan Abbott had only hit one home run in her high school softball career.

Maybe that’s why it came as a bit of a surprise when she hit a grand slam in the third inning of Tuesday afternoon’s 11-4 victory.

All she wanted to do is get a base-hit and score some runs. Instead, she knocked in four runs with just one swing of the bat.

“I just wanted to do my job and get some runs any way I could,” Abbott said of her approach in the at-bat. “I was only trying to get a base-hit, so I was excited and it helped the team.”

Morgan Petty (43) and Morgan Abbott (21) each hit homers in Milford’s 11-4 win (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“We work a lot on our hitting, which is quite evident,” head coach Sean Brennan said. “But our approach is always to look at something to drive. If the ball is away, we’re looking to drive it away in the gap. If it’s on the inner half, we’re looking to turn on it and drive it into the gap. It was her approach of just looking for something to drive.”

Between Abbott’s grand slam, junior shortstop Morgan Petty’s fourth-inning leadoff solo home run and runs batted in from senior Darby Brennan, junior Courtney Kohel, sophomore Macey Myers and senior Kalaysia Reynolds, the Lady Bucs managed to earn its first Battle of the Bat victory in four years.

It marks the first win over rival Lake Forest during head coach Brennan’s tenure.

“Any time you can get a win in a rivalry game, it’s a great feeling,” coach Brennan said. “Coming in at 2-2, we knew we were going to coach them up, work hard and get better. I felt like our emotions got the best of us the other day and today it didn’t happen. So, it’s a great feeling. Any day you can get a win in the Henlopen Conference it’s a great day, so today was a great day.”

In the pitcher’s circle, Abbott limited Lake Forest batters to just four runs (three earned) on 10 hits and struck out two Lady Spartan hitters.

Senior Darby Brennan dashes for third base during Tuesday afternoon’s match-up (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“She did a great job in the pitcher’s circle today,” coach Brennan said. “Her focus was tremendous today, I’m so proud of her. We worked on that in practice as well, and I’m just really proud of Mo and all the girls.”

The scoring got started in the bottom of the first inning, with a pair of runs coming across to score for the Lady Bucs. It continued in the third inning, with five runs – including Abbott’s four RBIs – coming across to score to put Milford ahead 7-0 early on.

Lake Forest scored one run in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but was unable to string together a rally to keep pace with Milford’s offense.

Lake senior Kaitlyn Stahre, who had been coming off a 16-strikeout performance in Lake’s 4-3 12-inning loss to DMA Saturday, April 7, struck out six batters in her 4.1 innings pitched.

Milford put up 11 runs on nine hits against Stahre and sophomore relief pitcher Kayley Joiner (1.2 IP).

“She’s one of the best pitchers in the state,” coach Brennan said of Stahre. “But we felt comfortable in our approach and what we wanted to do today. It’s about executing the plan. When you’re passionate, it’s about executing that plan and being able to accomplish your purpose. And we were passionate today.”

Senior Kaitlyn Stahre throws a pitch during the Lake Forest-Milford softball showdown Tuesday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Lake Forest senior Brooke Glanden sent an Abbott pitch over the right field fence late in the game for Lake’s lone home run. Stahre, Brittany Baker and Abigail Collins scored the other three runs for the Lady Spartans.

Glanden went 3-for-4, while Baker and Joiner each went 2-for-4 for the Spartans.

Abbott and Julia Reed were the lone Buccaneer hitters with multi-hit games. Reed, going 2-for-3 with a walk, hit a pair of singles and scored on Abbott’s grand slam.

Petty’s homer in the fourth inning marked her third home run in the past two games, following her two-HR game in the loss to Cape Friday, April 6.

“I’ve just been thinking ‘just get a hit, just get a hit,’ and it doesn’t matter where the hit goes, just get a hit to get more runners on base,” Petty simply said of her approach in every at-bat.

Next for Lake is a road game at Polytech Thursday, April 12 at 4:15 p.m.

Milford hosts Concord Thursday, April 12 at 4:15 p.m.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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