Braves open conference play with win

For The Tribune


Brownstown Central’s softball team scored runs in the first, third and fifth innings Thursday to defeat Eastern (Pekin) 3-1 in the Mid-Southern Conference opener for both teams.

Braves coach Monte Ault said it was a good way to start the conference schedule.

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“I didn’t know much about Pekin. They’re usually pretty decent, and we wanted to come in and start the conference schedule on the right foot. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good team effort,” he said.

The Braves scored in the bottom of the first to lead the rest of the way.

Zoe Fountain led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. She stole second and third bases and scored on the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher on a strikeout.

Eastern’s Savannah Gilstrap led off the top of the third inning with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and to third on an infield error and scored on an infield out by Destiny Worley to tie the game at 1.

The Braves regained the lead in the bottom of the third when, with two outs and nobody on base, Fountain doubled over the center fielder’s head and scored on a single by Chloe Carlin.

The Braves added an insurance run in the fifth, and Rilee Robinson started the rally by reaching first base safely on an error. She was sacrificed to second by Kaitie Taggart, moved to third on a single by Fountain and scored on a wild pitch.

Fountain, a freshman, led the Braves offensively by getting on base three straight times with two hits and being hit by a pitch, and she scored two runs.

Robinson was the only other Brave to reach base twice — on an error and on a fielder’s choice.

The Braves had six hits, including doubles by Fountain and Kaylee Branaman.

Jami Bryant, a senior right-hander, didn’t allow more than one hit in any inning — giving up four for the game — and she struck out six and didn’t walk any.

Bryant struck out the side in the top of the first and the leadoff batter in the second inning.

“I thought Jami did a pretty good job pitching, keeping them off a little bit with the change-up,” Ault said.

Eastern pitcher Elizabeth Albertson had three strikeouts and didn’t walk any.

The Braves stranded five base runners.

“I was a little disappointed (with the offense),” Ault said. “I thought maybe we should have hit the ball a little better from top to bottom, but a win is a win.”

Brownstown’s lineup, including the designated player, was made up of five freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and two seniors.

“I don’t think the weather had anything to do with it. It was a little chilly,” Ault said. “We’ve got to improve on our base running. We’ve got some young girls. They’ve played a lot of softball, but we’ve got to work on when (the opponent) gets runners on, knowing where to go with the ball.”

The Braves will travel to West Washington on Monday.