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Milligan baseball, softball picking up midseason momentum

Daniel Manget • Mar 21, 2019 at 5:19 PM

While the temperature has been heating up, so have both the Milligan College baseball and softball teams. The baseball team has won its last five, including a three-game series sweep of Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Montreat, while Milligan’s softball team has won eight of its last 14.

Both teams have battled back from a slow start and have endured a rain-soaked schedule plagued with changes, yet find themselves on a winning trend.

Freshman Chance Hall gave the Buffs a boost early in the season, but lately it has been junior Blake Dutton providing the offensive firepower. Dutton is batting .410 for the season and has four doubles and three home runs. In Milligan’s last five games, all wins, Dutton has eight RBIs and is batting .565.

In fact, five Buffs are batting over .400 during Milligan’s winning streak, including Dutton, Braden Jones (.556) and Snaider Torrealba (.500) at .500 or better.

Milligan’s late stretch also has included a pair of grand slams, hit by William Oliver and Kirby Smith.

It has been a fun stretch for these Buffs, but their slow start has led them to a 9-12 (3-6 AAC) record. They have not played on Anglin Field yet this season as more than 10 games have been canceled or moved to a different location due to rain or field conditions. Head coach David Grewe says that, ironically, the adversity is helping the Buffs grow.

“This is the most adversity I have ever witnessed for a baseball program,” he said. “Name it, we have experienced it, including a flooded field. And through it, we are building character and positive culture. I am proud the boys have battled the road, kept their heads above water and are learning how to compete."

Head softball coach Wes Holly said his team has battled through similar adversity.

“Finally, our field has dried out from the flood, and we can get in some practice,” Holly said. “We’ve played 20 games on the road with no practice on the field and are playing .500. Our goal is to have a good last half of the season and get ready for the AAC tournament.”

Milligan softball battled through a slow start, yet the slow start may have had as much to do with the quality of competition as anything. The first six opponents sported a combined win-loss record of 23-7. Since then, the Buffs are 8-6 overall and 6-6 in conference play.

Kirstan Beaver, at .313, is the Buffs’ hitting leader through 20 games this season, and she also leads the team with a .406 average in AAC play. Erin Forgety (2.97) and Kassi Butcher (3.27) are the team’s top pitchers, and both have been exceptional in AAC play with earned-run averages less than 2.00.

Spring golf, tennis, outdoor track seasons underway

Three other Milligan programs are under way this spring. The men’s and women’s golf teams, both runners-up at the AAC Fall Championship, have begun the second leg of the season with one event under each belt. Senior Cody Carlson led the men at the Tusculum Spring Invitational while senior Sarah Son led the women at the Callaway Gardens Collegiate. Both teams have one more event on their schedule prior to the AAC Spring Championships and NAIA Direct Qualifiers.

Milligan tennis is midway through its spring season and has a 9-6 record on the women’s side and 6-8 mark in men’s play. Marlaina Peterson (12-3) and Karson Light (10-5) lead the women with the top singles records while Taylor Graalman (11-3) and Thomas Hurt (8-5) lead the men.

Similar to the golf teams, Milligan’s outdoor track & field team has completed one event, and it was one with several high marks. Liz Maller, who was runner-up in the hammer throw and shot put; Amy Ferguson, who was third in the 5k; and Rasheem Brown, who won the 200 meter dash; all won AAC weekly honors following their efforts.