SALISBURY — The Bayside Breeze 16u Christopher team opened the USSSA Softball World Series bracket play with back-to-back wins Wednesday, July 31, to advance in the winner’s bracket.
The Breeze opened Wednesday with a 5-4 victory over the Hudson Valley Titans at Snow Hill. They followed the victory with a 5-1 win over the Tri-County Thunder.
In the first game, Grace Buchanan singled with one out in the top of the first. A single by Emily Darling advanced Buchanan to third. Chloe Callaway plated Buchanan with an RBI single to left for a 1-0 lead. Courtesy runner Hannah Moore then scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
The Titans scored three in the bottom of the first to lead 3-2. The Breeze tied the score at 3-3 in the fourth on a Reagan Miller RBI single.
The Breeze took a 5-3 lead in the fifth. Moore (2 for 2) plated Ava Carels for a single to right. Then Olivia Christopher scored on a Miller fielder’s choice groundout to move ahead 5-3. The Titans could only score on run in the bottom of the fifth. Moore picked up the win in the circle for the Breeze.
In the second game, Emilee Cohee pitched a complete game to get the victory for the Breeze.
In the top of the first, Darling doubled with two outs. She then scored on a single by Callaway to give the Breeze a 1-0 lead.
The Thunder tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. The Breeze went back ahead 2-1 on a miller RBI single to left in the top of the second.
In the fourth, Callaway plated Moore and Erica Barrow with a single for a 4-1 lead. Christopher (3 for 3) added to the lead with an RBI single to go up 5-1.
The two Wednesday wins advanced the Breeze to Thursday, but they fell in back-to-back games. The Breeze lost 6-2 Thursday morning to the Pocono Pride, and then fell 5-3 to USSSA New York Pride Thursday afternoon.
Bayside Breeze began its three-game pool play series shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, at Winter Place Park, against the Lisi Oil Bombers (Tower City, Pa.)
The Bombers opened with a run in the top of the first, Samantha Masser (three runs) drawing a leadoff walk, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scoring on a passed ball.
The Breeze responded in the bottom of the first with a run when Grace Buchanan (2 for 2) singled with one out and scored on an error on a grounder to third off Chloe Callaway’s bat.
The Bombers capitalized on several Breeze fielding errors in the next inning, the biggest rally of the game.
Brittany Rice made a trip around the bases when her single to right got by the outfielder there for a three-base error, making it 2-1. An error at short, followed by a thrown-away sacrifice bunt, put two more Bomber runners in scoring position, and a walk loaded the bases, still with none out.
After starting pitcher Emily Darling popped up the next hitter to short, a Morgan Koutch single brought in two runs. Masser was hit by a pitch, and a fielder’s choice at home accounted for the second out. But another infield error, led to two more runs and a 6-1 lead before the inning ended.
“We had a terrible second inning,” Breeze manager Scott Christopher said. “We just didn’t get a good handle on the ball, and we’re not usually like that. And they took advantage of it.”
The Breeze rallied to make it close in the bottom of the second, though. With two outs, Emilee Cohee reached on a mishandled grounder to short. Briauna Milton followed with a single to center field, which was also not fielded cleanly, allowing Cohee to score to make it 6-2.
Logan Marvel walked, and Erica Barrow’s double to left-center scored Milton and Marvel to make it 6-4.
The Bombers tacked on single runs in the fourth and fifth to make it 8-4, but the Breeze had one last rally.
Marvel reached when her leadoff single that inning, the last in the rigidly-timed contest (no new innings could begin after 80 minutes of play), got past an outfielder, putting her at second. A wild pitch moved her to third and a passed ball brought her in to make it 8-5.
Barrow walked and Buchanan singled to right-center. Barrow was tagged out trying for third, in what proved to be a huge factor.
“I sent Erica because that’s just how I try to coach,” Christopher said. “I tend to be a little aggressive on the bases, make the other team make the play. And I have a lot of confidence in girls like Erica. We’ve got some speed at the top of the lineup, and you have to try to take a chance sometimes, grab that extra base, especially when you’re down late.
“It didn’t work out, and that’s entirely my fault, that out at third. But I’m proud of the way the girls came back,” Christopher said. “They played hard to the last out.”
Darling fouled to third for the second out of the inning, before Callaway launched a two-run homer over the left-center field fence, pulling the Breeze within 8-7. The one-run lead was enough as Bayside’s next hitter grounded out to second, ending the game.
The Breeze rebounded with a 4-3 victory over the Bridgewater (N.J.) Panthers. In their final game, the Breeze lost, 5-2, to the Homer (Illinois) Heat.