Petty crushes pair of homers in Lady Bucs’ 11-10 loss

LEWES – Junior shortstop Morgan Petty crushed a pair of home runs during the Milford High varsity softball program’s road showdown at Cape Henlopen High Friday, April 6.

It wasn’t quite enough offense to pull away with a victory.

The Cape Vikings (2-2) narrowly escaped with an 11-10 victory over the Lady Bucs (2-2).

“My hat’s off to Cape Henlopen. They battled. That coaching staff is a good coaching staff, they’re working hard to develop their program and they’ve done a great job,” Milford head coach Sean Brennan said.

Morgan Petty high-fives head coach Sean Brennan as she rounds third and heads for home following her two-run homer Friday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Petty’s solo home run off the right field foul pole in the top of the third inning and her two-run homer off the centerfield scoreboard in the fourth helped Milford’s offense build a 9-3 lead by the middle of the fifth inning.

“Today I was just going up to get a base hit at least and to just start up something,” Petty said of her approach at the plate. “We have this thing where hitting’s contagious and if one person does good everybody else starts doing good. So that was my goal, to just start a spark.”

Her first home run did just that. Started a spark.

The solo shot put the Lady Bucs ahead 3-2 in the top of the third inning.

“She hit the foul pole square, so she rung the bell which was pretty exciting and that did spark us. We did generate some more runs after that,” coach Brennan said of Petty’s solo shot.

One inning later, with the game tied 3-3 once again, Morgan Abbott led off the inning with a double to right field. Julia Reed moved Abbott’s courtesy runner — sophomore Emily Sickles — over to third base with a groundout. Junior Vanasha Daniels proceeded to bring Sickles home with a sacrifice bunt to give Milford the 4-3 advantage.

Senior Darby Brennan followed the bunt up with an infield single and, once again, Petty did what she had to do at the plate. Petty’s two-run homer off the scoreboard drove in Brennan and put Milford ahead 6-3.

In the top of the fifth, Julia Reed drove a two-run triple to right field to score Macey Myers and Kalaysia Reynolds. The three-bagger marked Reed’s second triple of the game, giving her three RBIs on the day.

Junior first baseman Julia Reed makes her way to third base during one of her two triples Friday afternoon in Lewes (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Reed would come around to score on a passed ball in the next at-bat to give Milford a 9-3 lead.

Down six runs, the Lady Vikings used an eight-run performance in the bottom of the fifth inning to snag an 11-9 lead and eventually walked away with the 11-10 win in front of the home crowd.

That fifth-inning rally started with a hit batter and an RBI triple from Cape freshman Marissa Frederick. In the following at-bat, Haley Rauch drove Frederick in on an RBI single to bring the score to 9-5.

Cape would proceed to load the bases up before sophomore Kelsey Huling knocked in two more runs with a single. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Kaniah James and a Ryleigh Elliott RBI double to centerfield knotted the game up 9-9.

Kaeli O’Neill-Willey reached base on an infield single, which scored two more runs to provide the Lady Vikings with its first lead of the game, 11-9.

The Cape baserunner on second base bumped into Petty, at shortstop, on her way to third base as Petty attempted to field the ground ball and chuck it over to first base. The runner at first base safely beat out the throw, and no base-runner interference was called. The two go-ahead runs for Cape counted.

Senior Morgan Abbott tosses a pitch from the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Bucs Friday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“That’s softball,” coach Brennan said. “We had plenty of other opportunities where, if we’re not emotional, we can make plays. We have to get better as a ball club. We’re not where we want to be and that’s okay. It’s a grind.”

In the top of the seventh inning, Kalaysia Reynolds kept the Bucs’ hopes alive with a double off the centerfield wall. She would come around to score on a Morgan Abbott groundout, but Cape stopped any further damage and clinched the one-run win with a pop-out to second base in the following at-bat.

“I was proud of our kids, because it was a game that went back and forth all day and we gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game – or at least tie it in the seventh inning,” coach Brennan stated.

After such a hard-fought battle, coach Brennan made sure to give credit where credit’s due.

“They got down and they didn’t let their emotions control what they wanted to do,” he said of Cape’s performance. “They were passionate. Emotions prevent you from winning, passion helps you win, and we became emotional in the fifth inning. We have to learn from that.”

In the pitcher’s circle, senior Morgan Abbott struck out one Cape batter and recorded a 1-2-3 half inning on three consecutive groundouts in the bottom of the fourth.

At 2-2 on the season, Milford will prepare to host rival Lake Forest (2-0) in the annual Battle of the Bat Tuesday, April 10. First pitch is slated for 4:15 p.m. at Milford High.

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

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