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More late-game conquest for Bradley softball

Bradley celebrates after a play. Photo by Jenna Zeise.

The Braves traveled to Birmingham, AL for the Green and Gold Classic over the weekend. Bradley (3-7) faced UAB, Alabama, Western Carolina and North Alabama in action-packed matchups.

First up was a battle against North Alabama, where sophomore Kierston McCoy had the only two hits for Bradley, a double and a triple. Surrendering three runs in the third inning, the Braves lost 0-5.

There wasn’t much time to rest as Bradley had to pick themselves up for a matchup against UAB. In a much tighter contest, Bradley had four players with hits, including McCoy, graduate senior Tori Meyer, sophomore Lauren DeRolf and sophomore Ashley Breeding. 

Junior Sydney Kennedy continued her successful circle time with two strikeouts, only allowing four hits. Despite the increase in production, the Braves fell to the Dragons 0-2. 

The increased confidence gave the team a jolt as they faced No. 10 ranked Alabama, resulting in a McCoy home run that flew over the left-field bleachers. After that injection of adrenaline for the Braves in the bottom of the second, the game turned sour. 

The Crimson Tide responded with two runs of their own, taking a slight 2-1 advantage into the third inning. After an inning of silence from both sides, the Braves couldn’t stop the bombardment as five Alabama runs were scored in the fifth, starting with a homer from Riley Valentine. Bradley couldn’t stop the bleeding, losing the game 10-1.

Despite the slow start for the Braves, the team also accumulated two wins over the Western Carolina Catamounts, where their strengths were really shown.

“This team doesn’t give up very easily,” Braves head coach Sarah Willis said. “Super gritty ball club.” 

If Bradley can keep the game close until the final two innings, they can usually come out with a win. This was once again relevant in their victory over the Catamounts.

In their first matchup, the Catamounts struck first with a run in the first inning but could not mount to anything after that, with the stellar performance of junior Abbott Badgley’s eight-strikeout complete game shutting the opposition down. 

It was a collective effort of hits in the third to get the Braves on the board, with a McCoy single scoring junior Bailey Sample. Then, in classic comeback kid fashion, senior Jordy van De Werf hit a double in the sixth inning to score two runners. 

The game ended in a 3-1 Bradley victory.

The Braves pulled out a second win against Western Carolina on Sunday. This time, with the game squared at one apiece going into the sixth inning, the Braves rattled off three runs to help themselves to a 4-1 triumph.

Bradley goes back to work next weekend at the MTSU Invitational in Murfreesboro, TN. The first pitch will be thrown at 9 a.m. against the Detroit Mercy Titans.

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