No.3 Stars go long way for short starts to 2023 campaign

MURFREESBORO – BNL’s Annie Waggoner circles the bases after slugging a home run in the season opener against Tullahoma on Friday afternoon. Courtesy photo

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Bedford North Lawrence drove a long way for two short games to start the 2023 campaign.

The Stars, ranked No.3 in the Class 4A preseason poll, opened the campaign in the 21st annual Southern Warrior Classic (a 95-team event with teams from 10 states) in Murfreesboro on Friday. After crushing Tennessee’s Tullahoma 13-3 in five innings, BNL suffered a 14-5, five-inning setback against Mount Juliet (Tenn.) in the second contest.

In the opener, the Stars came out swinging, scoring five times in the first. Lauryn Anderson and Ava Ratliff stated the rally with singles, Annie Waggoner followed with a RBI single, and Aliza Jewell cracked a two-run single. Tori Nikirk singled for another run, and she later scored via an error and wild pitch.

BNL added three more in the second as Waggoner blasted a two-run home run to center. Braxton McCauley singled, stole second and scored on Kendall Graves’ RBI hit.

The Stars added five more runs in the third. After back-to-back walks to start the frame, Anderson ripped a two-run triple. Ratliff followed with an RBI single. Another Tullahoma error and two ground outs accounted for the final two runs.

The Wildcats (4-3 in Tennessee’s Class 3A) scored three times in the fourth, with Taylor Brinkley bashing a RBI double.

Anderson was 3-for-3, Ratliff and Waggoner had two hits reach, while Waggoner and Jewell both collected three RBIs. Waggoner (1-0) struck out 8 in only three innings of work in the circle.

MURFREESBORO – BNL’s Braxton McCauley had four hits in the two games on Friday. Courtesy photo

“We played really well in Game One,” BNL coach Brad Gilbert said. “We moved fields (with no time between games) and may have felt rushed for the next one. We didn’t play as sharp as we did in Game One.”

In the second game, Mount Juliet (4-2 in 4A) pounded out two home runs and scored multiple runs in three big innings.

The Golden Bears scored three times in the first, with Cali Hughes crushing a three-run blast. BNL answered with three in the bottom of the inning, with McCauley stroking a run-scoring single and Graves adding a two-run single.

But Mount Juliet dominated from that point, scoring five in the third (four with two outs) and five more in the fourth (with freshman Chloe Younggren ripping a three-run homer).

Graves had three hits and four RBIs, while McCauley had three hits.

“These teams have been playing for a couple weeks,” Gilbert said. “So it will be great for us to prepare for conference games.”

BNL (1-1) will play three games against more Tennessee competition on Saturday, starting with Shelbyville at 11 a.m. The Stars will face Riverdale at 1 p.m., then close the two-day road trip against Lincoln County at 5 p.m.