Sullivan’s triple lifts Bryant to opening win
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
JACKSONVILLE — Lindsey Sullivan cracked a two-out, two-run triple then scored herself on an error in the top of the seventh and freshman pitcher Kara Vaughn worked around a two-out double in the bottom of the inning as the Bryant Lady Hornets softball team forged a 10-7 victory in their season opener against the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils on Monday, March 10, at Dupree Park.
Sullivan’s hit was the only one of Bryant’s six that got out of the infield. A hard-hit grounder, it got past Jacksonville shortstop Samantha Wheaton then rolled by center fielder Amy Rambo.
Melody Kocsis, who had reached base on an infield hit with one out and Ashley Grappe, who had been hit by a pitch for the third time in the game, scored ahead of Sullivan.
And it was a game-winner that almost didn’t happen. With runners at first and second and one out, Rachel Blakley hit a pop up on the infield. Though, apparently, the umpires invoked the infield fly rule (the batter is automatically out, runners advance at their own risk), it wasn’t announced very loudly. So, when third baseman Megan Towner dropped the ball, she thought she could get a force out at third.
The baserunners didn’t hear the call either as they tried to advance once the ball was dropped, thinking they were forced to. And when Towner touched third ahead of Kocsis, Grappe reached second and Blakley reached first, everyone thought Kocsis was out. And, in the confusion, she started to leave the bag for the dugout.
Fortunately, someone realized the situation and urged Kocsis to get back to third as Towner walked the ball back to her pitcher. Had Kocsis reached the dugout or had Towner tagged her, the inning would’ve been over before Sullivan came to the plate.
But Sullivan cleared the bases and scored herself when the return throw from the outfield got away, snapping a 7-7 tie.
Now, in every other inning that Bryant had scored (to take the lead every time), Jacksonville had answered in the bottom of the frame. But this time, Vaughn, making her first varsity start, got the first two Jacksonville batters to fly out as first Ashley Grappe in right then Lindsey Stone in left, made nice catches. Within a strike of ending the game, Towner laced a shot down the third-base line for a double. But Vaughn showed her metal and struck out Whitney Belew to end the game.
It was Vaughn’s sixth strikeout of the game. She walked six as well and scattered seven hits.
Kocsis led Bryant with a pair of hits including a bunt single in the team’s four-run second. Bryant took the lead with that uprising. It started with an infield hit by Jeanne Randall. She advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on wild pitch as Allison Mitchem drew a walk. An errant throw back to the pitcher by the Jacksonville catcher allowed Randall to sprint home with the first run.
Amanda Grappe, running for Mitchem, swiped second. Stone sacrificed her to third and she scored from there on a wild pitch.
Kalin Dreher beat out an infield hit and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Kocsis’ bunt single was followed by Ashley Grappe reaching base on her first bruise. Kocsis, who reached third on another throwing error, scored on a squeeze bunt by Blakley to make it 4-0.
Jacksonville took advantage of a pair of walks in the bottom of the inning to score a run on Amy Rambo’s two-out single. But Vaughn kept it at that getting Shameka Lester to fly out to right for the final out with the bases loaded.
The Lady Hornets tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth. Dreher walked and was sacrificed to second by Kocsis. A passed ball allowed her to reach third then Ashley Grappe was hit by a pitch again. Blakley beat out a bunt for a hit as Dreher held at third, loading the bases.
Dreher was out, however, when Sullivan grounded to third. With two down, however, Amie Hubbard and Randall worked for RBI walks to make it 6-1.
The Lady Red Devils countered with a five-run inning, however. Bryant almost got out of it with the lead. With two out and a run in on another RBI hit by Amy Rambo, Jacksonville had runners at first and second when Lester hit a grounder to Blakley at short. She knocked it down and underhanded a throw to Sullivan at second for what appeared to be an inning-ending force. But the field umpire ruled that Sullivan juggled the catch and the runner was safe. And the runner that had been at second hustled home on the play to make it 6-3.
Wheaton was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Misty Morehart. The count went to 2-2 before Morehart looped a two-run single to left center.
Wheaton went to third on the play and scored the tying run on a wild pitch.
Bryant regained the advantage in the top of the sixth when Blakley walked and advanced on a passed ball. With two down, Randall’s looper to short was misplayed. And when Amanda Grappe’s grounder to short was botched, Blakley scored the lead run.
But a single by Tammy Rambo, a groundout by Wheaton and a two-out single by Morehart — again, a strike away from making the third out of the inning — tied it.