By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — This week’s rain may be annoying the area’s teams, but the rain two weeks ago may have done Tippecanoe and Milton-Union softball a favor.
The two Miami County rivals met Saturday in a makeup of a game that was rained out on April 25, providing them both with one last solid tune-up before next week’s sectional tournament begins as the host Red Devils took advantage of a short-handed Milton-Union squad’s errors to pull away for a 7-1 victory at Tippecanoe Middle School.
With the win, Tippecanoe improved to 19-5 overall, their most wins since the 2013 season.
“It worked out well for us,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Sutton said. “This was supposed to be a week ago, and it ended up getting rescheduled. We wanted to play someone that we knew was a good, quality team going into the tournament, and we know Milton is that. I know they were shorthanded today, but that says a lot about (Milton-Union coach) Curt (Schaefer) and his program, because they have a lot of good depth.”
Milton-Union, meanwhile, fell to 12-8 while missing a trio of senior starters, including starting pitcher Olivia Brown, Courtney Seevers — who leads the Southwestern Buckeye League in batting average — and Annika Hutchinson.
“We’re missing our first and second hitters (in the lineup), and that’s huge,” Schaefer said. “Somebody’s got to step up, though.”
The Bulldogs still had a potent lineup, though, but Tippecanoe starter Savannah Wead and the Red Devil defense did a good job of limiting their chances. Wead struck out seven, walked three and allowed only four hits on the day, and the defense committed zero errors behind her.
“Savannah did really well today,” Sutton said. “We were really happy with her. She hasn’t pitched in about a week so far as game time, so for her to come out and do as well as she did, that was good to see.”
Milton-Union did get on the board first, though, in scoring their only run in the top of the second inning. Madison Jones singled to lead off, and a double by Lizzie Oaks put runners on second and third with no outs. Madison Silveira then dropped down an RBI squeeze bunt to bring home one run, but Wead got out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, leaving the runner stranded on third.
The Devils evened things up in the bottom of the inning, too, with Brooke Silcox leading off with a double, taking third on a sacrifice bunt by Alayna Liskey and scoring on an RBI sac fly by Corinn Siefring to tie the score at 1-1.
From there, Milton-Union simply couldn’t take advantage of its chances, leaving a total of five runners on base — three of them in scoring position. Only Oaks had multiple hits, going 2 for 3 with the double.
“We just didn’t hit the ball,” Schaefer said. “We didn’t do a very good job of pitch selection. I don’t know if they were waiting on that perfect pitch or what, but sometimes you’ve got to take what they give you. And we didn’t do a good job of that today. We got girls on with the right people up, but we didn’t get it done. We left a lot of runners on today, too. That seems to be a problem we’ve been having.”
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, continued to make the most of its opportunities. Kayla Runyon and Wead hit back-to-back singles to begin the home third, with the runners moving up to second and third on a groundout. Sidney Unger drove in one run on another sac fly, then another run scored on a throwing error to give the Devils a 3-1 lead.
And in the fourth, Siefring singled to lead off and Brooke Aselage doubled to put runners on second and third, then Runyon beat out an RBI bunt single, leaving runners on the corners. Oaks, who came on in relief of starter Madison Jones to start the inning, made a solid play on another bunt to get an out at home plate, but Kaela May followed that with an RBI groundout and Tippecanoe still led 5-1.
Finally in the sixth, the Devils put the game away with a pair of unearned runs. Wead singled to lead off and an error put two on. Unger drove in a run with an RBI single, and another error on a play at third left two runners in scoring position with no outs, allowing Kaitlyn Husic to drive in one final insurance run on another sac fly.
All told, the Bulldog defense committed five errors in the game. Jones allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in three innings of work, while Oaks allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits in three innings.
“Pitching-wise, I thought we threw the ball well,” Schaefer said. “There were some plays we should have made that we didn’t make, and Tipp didn’t make an error.”
“Not the prettiest way to get on base, but when you do, you’ve got to take advantage of them. And we did exactly that,” Sutton said. “We hit the ball well today, as well. And that’s always a good thing going into the tournament, too. We’re starting to hit the ball well at the right time, so we’ll take it.”
For Tippecanoe, Runyon was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Wead was 2 for 3, Aselage and Silcox both doubled, Unger had two RBIs and May, Husic and Siefring each drove in one.
Tippecanoe chose a first-round bye in the tournament and has one regular season game left — a makeup game against Stebbins on Tuesday — before Thursday’s Division II second-round matchup against the winner between Monroe and Ponitz. Milton-Union, meanwhile, kicks off D-III tournament play right away on Monday at Arcanum, leaving the Bulldogs appreciating the chance for one more tune-up beforehand.
“That’s why we wanted to come here,” Schaefer said. “It got us ready, and it got a chance to get some girls in that might get a chance to have an at-bat on Monday. You never know. I still feel good about Monday.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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