By Jason Hanes, Reinhardt (Ga.) Sports Information Director
WALESKA, Ga. - Haley Brannon connected for a three-run homer in game one and Alexis Chumbler went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in game two as the No. 13 Reinhardt University softball team defeated Milligan, 3-1 and 7-5, in an Appalachian Athletic Conference doubleheader at Ken White Field.
The wins were the 200th and 201st in the head coaching career of Glen Crawford at RU, though Crawford was quick to deflect any praise for the accomplishment. "It's an awesome honor," Crawford said. "It tells me we recruit the right kids because the kids got the 200 wins. They bought in to what we're trying to do here. They honor me with 200 wins, and I throw it right back at them because I'm blessed with players that buy in."
Milligan (3-14, 2-4 AAC) struck first in game one, scoring on an RBI double by Catherine McGinnis. Reinhardt (24-3, 6-0 AAC) didn't answer until the third inning. After Shelby Sinclair led off with a single, Chumbler dug in at the plate for a 12 pitch at bat. The freshman fouled off eight pitches before finally drawing a walk. "That at bat by Chumbler is just indicitive of the entire team," Crawford said. "We've got a team that's just not going to stop fighting until the game is over. That walk helped us to get in the mind of their starting pitcher, and Haley was able to reap the reward."
On a 1-2 offering from Chancli Connatser, Brannon connected for a three-run home run to dead center field, clearing the bases and giving the Lady Eagles the lead for good, 3-1. That would prove to be enough for senior pitcher Maddie Monroe. The Calhoun, Ga., native struck out 11 batters and allowed only six hits in moving her record to a spotless 13-0.
In game two, the Lady Eagles fell behind quickly as Milligan scored twice in the first and once in the second to take a, 3-0, lead. "There are certain teams we're just supposed to fight with, and we always battle with Milligan," Crawford said. "I don't care what their record is, they are always prepared and ready to battle us every pitch of every game. You have to tip your hat to them for how hard they worked as a team, but you have to tip your hat to our team as well for the way we responded."
Reinhardt scored three times in the second inning to even the score, with all the runs coming with two out in the inning. On a 1-1 count, Sinclair tripled over the head of the left fielder for Milligan, scoring Katie Blair and Tyler Sampson. Two pitches later, Chumbler earned an RBI when she reached first on a bouncer back up the middle that scored Sinclair.
RU took the lead in the third when starting pitcher Kelsey Floyd helped her own cause. The senior turned on a 3-2 pitch for a line drive home run just over the wall in left. The fourth home run of the week for Floyd gave RU the lead, 4-3.
The Buffaloes responded in the fourth when a double off the top of the wall in right by Camille Olvey tied the score, 4-4.
Reinhardt bounced right back in the bottom of the inning with three runs to pull ahead for good. A one-out single through the left side by Chumbler plated pinch runner Audrie Pryor with RU's fifth run of the game. After a steal by Chumbler, a wild pitch brought home Sampson and moved Chumbler up 60-feet, giving RU a 6-4 lead. After a ground out, a single into right by Floyd brought home Chumbler with RU's seventh run.
Milligan would get a run in the sixth on a solo home run, but that would be the only run Brannon would allow in her two innings of relief. Monroe came in to retire the side in the seventh, earning her first save of the year and keeping the Lady Eagles perfect in AAC play.
Sinclair, Chumbler and Floyd each finished the game with two RBIs. Crawford noted how the timely hits of those three were only possible because of the efforts of their teammates. "We had players have to come off the bench and play today like Callie Ann Poole and Ashleigh Armstrong that really did well in their jobs. Both of these wins were really entire team efforts."
The Lady Eagles will next be in action this Wednesday at Point. First pitch in the AAC doubleheader is set for 2 p.m.