By Cassandra Swartz:
In a back-and-forth game Friday night, the Buchholz Bobcats came out victorious against the Williston Red Devils. With both starting pitchers throwing complete games, the visiting Cats outscored the home team to go away with the 8-5 win
“I’m so excited about my team’s performance,” said Buchholz head coach Mike Whelan after the game. Buchholz jumped out to an early lead thanks to a pair of runs off wild pitches.
Olivia McDaniel hit a leadoff single and then stole two bases to put herself on third where she was able to score on the first wild pitch. Jenajah Collins drew a walk, advanced to third on the initial wild pitchand scored on the next one. Williston attempted a rundown, but Collins was able to acrobatically evade the tag.
The Red Devils responded in the bottom of the first with a run of their own. Olivia Davis drew a leadoff walk, stole second and kept going to third on a defensive miscue, before being driven in by pitcher Nevaeh Hayes.The Bobcats tacked on another run in the next inning.
Tione Akins laced a single, and Mary Elise Brady laid down a bunt to advance her. McDaniel got her first RBI of the game on a double that scored Akins.The bottom of the second and top of the third were quiet half innings. Buchholz pitcher Bailey Quire picked up her first two strikeouts of the night.
In the home half of the third, Williston pieced together a series of hits that not only tied the game but allowed it to take over the lead. Davis and Maci Vonderstrasse hit back-to-back doubles to open before Hayes slammed a triple to bring them both home and tie the game at three a piece.Hayes was knocked in by a single from Miyuanna Days to give the Red Devils a 4-3 lead.
The Bobcats answered right back in the fourth as Brady delivered a double that scored Akins, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.The Lady Devils put a runner on base in the bottom of the inning, but solid defense, including a great catch by the centerfielder, kept the game tied.
Buchholz opened the game up in the fifth on a medley of hits. Collins led off with a bunt, followed up by a Lindsey Orton single. Paige Tibbetts drove a double that scored Collins, which gave the Bobcats back the lead.
Quire got in on the offense with a single that allowed Orton to cross the plate. Lauren Baltozer hit into a double play but still gave time for Tibbetts to score to make it 7-4.
Williston again put runners on base in the fifth, but left them stranded. The Bobcats added an insurance run in the sixth with the help of some Red Devil blunders.
Brady led off and should have been out at first, but the first basemen lost the ball and Brady made it all the way to second. She then advanced to third on a wild pitch. McDaniel hit a sacrifice grounder that brought Brady home and made it 8-4. McDaniel finished with a single, double, two RBIs, two steals and a run.
“We did good, overall,” she said. “There were a few things that we could’ve fixed... but we got all the outs we needed to.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Williston wasn’t able to capitalize on a single from Davis. The top of the seventh was the only 1-2-3 inning of the night. Attempting a rally with the final three outs, Hayes reached base for the fourth time by drawing a leadoff walk.
Savannah Rodriguez slammed a double to bring her home and the Red Devils within three runs. The rally ended there as a strikeout and foul out ended the game. Despite the loss, Hayes shone for Williston over the plate with her three RBIs, including two on a triple, and two runs.
For the Bobcats, junior Quire pitched all seven innings and tossed seven strikeouts over that time. She added an RBI-single.
“I think we did really well,” said Quire. “I couldn’t be happier to be on this team.”
That happiness was mirrored by Whelan.
“I’m super proud of every one of my girls,” he said. “We’re building a program here that is second-to-none in Gainesville.”
Buchholz improved to 6-3 on the season and will host Bradford on Tuesday. Williston dropped to 4-6 and will travel to Union County next week looking to recorrect.