Hard-hitting Stars cap Tennessee road trip with three impressive wins

MURFREESBORO – BNL’s Hayley Davis waits for a pitch at the plate. Davis had six hits in three games on Saturday as the Stars finished their road trip to Tennessee with three victories. Courtesy photo

MURFREESBORO, Tn. – Bedford North Lawrence concluded its two-day journey to the Southern Warrior Classic with impressive wins on Saturday.

The Stars, ranked No.3 in the preseason poll, finished the five-game road trip with three straight victories and wrapped up the season-opening event with a 4-1 record against Tennessee competition. BNL crushed Shelbyville Central 14-2 in four innings in its first game of the final day, conquered Macon County 10-4, then capped the second day with a 10-8 slugfest victory over powerful Lincoln County.

The highlight win came in the finale. The Falcons (9-2) had won four straight games and featured slugger Hallie Meeks (who had already blasted seven home runs this season). The Stars pounded out 13 hits during that encounter and answered Lincoln County’s early lead with a consistent barrage of offense.

“That was a big-time win,” BNL coach Brad Gilbert said. “Lincoln County is a very good softball team. Our hitting was great all weekend.”

After the Falcons swooped in front with three runs in the bottom of the first (thanks to a two-out, two-run double by Chloie McKean), the Stars went to work. They scored three in the second as Haley Davis led off with a double, Tori Nikirk followed with an infield hit, and Haleigh Canada reached on an error. Britta Warren’s ground out chased home a run and Ava Ratliff cracked a run-scoring single.

BNL added two more in the third on a Davis RBI single and Nikirk ground out. After Lincoln’s Abby Flynt smacked a two-run homer, BNL came back with three in the fourth on Ratliff’s RBI single and Braxton McCauley’s two-run single.

The Falcons scored twice in the fifth, but McCauley threw out a runner at the plate to end that rally.

Davis had three hits, while McCauley, Nikirk, Aliza Jewell and Ratliff had two each. McCauley drove in three runs. Annie Waggoner (3-0) went the distance and struck out seven while giving up 10 hits. Waggoner also made a fantastic diving catch of a Meeks pop-up with the bases loaded to end the fourth.

MURFREESBORO – BNL’s Ava Ratliff prepares to attack a pitch. Ratliff had six hits, including three doubles, during the three games on Saturday. Courtesy photo

“Hayley hit well today, especially in the final game,” Gilbert said. “Braxton and Aliza hit the ball hard. I could say something about them all.“

In the first game, the Stars exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the third. The huge rally included an RBI single by Waggoner, a two-run double by Jewell, two errors by the Golden Eagles (2-2), run-scoring singles by Davis and Lauryn Anderson, another RBI single by Waggoner and a run-scoring double by McCauley.

BNL got on the board in the first as Jewell singled, stole second and scored on Davis’ two-out RBI single. The Stars capped the mercy-rule blowout with three runs in the fourth, with Warren (two-run single) and Sara Williams (single) driving in the runs.

Waggoner (2-0) earned the win in the circle, allowing only two hits while working around five walks in four innings. Waggoner, McCauley, Jewell and Davis all had two hits each as BNL pounded out 13 total, and Nikirk made a sensational catch in left to end the third.

Against Macon County (1-2), the Stars took control with a four-run first. Ratliff sparked the outburst with a double, followed by RBI hits from Waggoner, McCauley (double) and Jewell. Kendall Graves lofted a sacrifice fly to complete the scoring in that frame.

BNL added on in the third (Jewell with a RBI double and Graves with another sacrifice fly), fourth (McCauley sacrifice fly), fifth (two Macon County errors) and sixth (McCauley’s double set the stage for two more runs).

The Tigers (who were guilty of five miscues) scratched out nine hits against Jewell (1-1), but she went six innings and worked out of trouble by leaving eight runners on base.

“The girls played hard all weekend,” Gilbert said. “When you play five games in three days, you see things that you need to work on. We need to get sharper in the circle, but our pitchers gutted it out and found a way to get it done. They gave up some runs but pitched against teams that have played 5-10 games already.

“Even playing so many games, our kids never gave up and wanted to win. This team wants to win and that’s huge.”

BNL will face Pike Central in the home opener on Friday.

MURFREESBORO – BNL’s Annie Waggoner went 3-0 in the circle during the five-game road trip to Tennessee. Courtesy photo