SHULLSBURG – Sophomore Melissa Brant was brilliant in the pitcher’s circle and her teammates came up with several timely hits as Shullsburg/Benton toppled visiting Darlington, 7-2, in a non-conference softball game at Badger Park on Tuesday, March 27.
Brant surrendered just one earned run over seven innings of work to pick up the complete-game victory. The sophomore scattered six hits and walked just one, while striking out 14 batters on the afternoon.
“She did an awesome job tonight,” said Shullsburg/Benton head coach Dan Spillane. “She’s only a sophomore and she’s only going to get better.”
The Redbirds (0-1 overall) got to Brant early with a run in the top of the first inning. Catcher Jacke Johnson led off the game by reaching on an error, and then she came around to score on a two-out double by third baseman Anna Fitzsimons. It was the first of three doubles for Fitzsimons in the game.
The Miner-Zephyrs (1-1 overall) struck right back in the bottom of the inning and grabbed the lead for good when shortstop Lauren Malone belted a base-clearing triple to put the hosts ahead 3-1.
Holly Rennert singled and Anna Holland ripped a double to start the rally, while Brant reached on an error following a strike out to load the bases.
Shullsburg/Benton tacked on an insurance run in the second on a RBI-single by Rennert and the hosts added another run in the third when Malone reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 5-1.
Darlington got back on the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Fitzsimons doubled in Haley Heins to cut the deficit to 5-2.
In the home half of the fifth, the Miner-Zephyrs plated two more runs on a two-out single by Nicole Champion to up the lead to 7-2.
The Redbirds put runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings, but they couldn’t break through for a run as Brant worked her way out of both jams to lock up the win.
“We need to calm down a bot. There were a few errors we made that gave them runs, otherwise we played right with them,” said new Darlington head coach Destiny Glasson after her first varsity game.
Brant struck out at least one batter in every inning, and struck out the side in the fifth and sixth innings to lead the Miner-Zephyrs.
Rennert finished 3-for-4 with a run and a RBI, while Holland went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs to lead the hosts at the plate.
“The girls did a lot of off-season work and their attitudes are just great this year,” Spillane noted.
Fitzsimons went 3-for-3 with three doubles and two runs batted in to lead the ‘Birds.
Darlington pitcher Laura Steiner took the tough loss after yielding just three earned runs on seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts (including four in the first inning.)
“We have started off this season with a lot to work on. With only six practices, I thought we looked good for the most part. Our pitching was pretty good and we had some nice hits,” Glasson commented. “We have improvements to make, but we have a lot of potential.”
Darlington returns to action with a SWAL game against Southwestern in Hazel Green on Thursday, April 5, at 5 p.m., and the Redbirds return home for a non-conference game against Monticello on Tuesday, April 10, also at 5 p.m.
Shullsburg/Benton has a non-conference game against Black Hawk in Gratiot on Tuesday, April 10, starting at 5 p.m.
Darlington….. 100 100 0 - 2 6 4
Shulls/Bent… 311 020 x - 7 7 1
Leading Hitters: Darlington– Anna Fitzsimons 3x3. 2B– A. Fitzsimons (3). Shulls/Bent– Holly Rennert 3x4, Anna Holland 2x4. 3B- Lauren Malone. 2B- Holland.
WP- Melissa Brant. LP- Laura Steiner.
Shulls/Bent… 000 000 - 0 3 3
Scales Mnd… 100 063 - 10 8 2
Leading Hitters: None.
WP- Williams. LP- Melissa Brant.
Shulls/Bent……. 000 10 - 1 1 5
East Dubuque… 262 0x - 14 14 1
Leading Hitters: None.
WP- Berryman. LP- Melissa Brant.