By Kristi Reed
After wiping out rival Dacula and winning their division at the Shaw Invitational, the Lady Hawks are looking strong as they return to region 7-AAAAA play this week.
Mill Creek hosts Duluth today at 5:55 p.m. On Friday, the Lady Hawks will host South Forsyth. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Region play continues next Tuesday when Mill Creek travels to Peachtree Ridge for a 5:55 p.m. start.
Eagles go down
Last week, the Lady Hawks traveled to Georgia Tech to face Eagles Landing Christian Academy. After seven scoreless innings, Mill Creek defeated ECLA 1-0 in a tie breaker.
The Lady Hawks (4-1, 1-0) scored the winning run when a sacrifice bunt by Kaitlin Stringer sent Chandler Griffin across the plate.
Mill Creek pitcher Morgan Bullock was credited with the win, pitching all eight innings. Bullock struck out 12 batters while giving up only two hits. Bullock also had a base hit and two stolen bases during the game.
Mill Creek head coach Kelly Murdock said the Lady Chargers’ Georgia Tech bound pitcher was very effective in limiting the Lady Hawks offensively.
Early on, it looked as if the Dacula Falcons might pose a challenge for the Lady Hawks in last Wednesday’s game.
Mill Creek got on the board first when Amberlie Saxton singled to send Morgan Bullock across the plate. A double by Lauren Stimis sent Saxton home giving the Lady Hawks a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
The Lady Falcons answered with a run of their own in the top of the second, but Mill Creek quickly regained its two run lead as Hannah Beth Baker scored off a Morgan Bullock triple.
In their best offensive showing of the night, the Lady Falcons scored twice in the top of the third to take a 4-3 lead.
The Lady Hawks allowed Dacula to enjoy that lead briefly before bringing on the heat.
Before the inning ended, Mill Creek had erased Dacula’s lead. The scoring began when Devin Dossman batted in Lauren Stimis to tie the game 4-4. A double by Baker sent Dossman and Chandler Griffin across the plate, giving Mill Creek a 6-4 lead. Alex Rogers picked up the next RBI for Mill Creek when she singled to send Baker home. A triple by Saxton knocked in another run to give Mill Creek an 8-4 lead heading into the fourth.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Dacula made one last attempt at a comeback but was only able to score one run.
The Lady Hawks came out in the bottom of the fifth with the bats swinging.
Bullock hit her second triple of the night to send Dossman home. After a single by Rogers, Saxton tripled again allowing Bullock and Rogers to score. Two batters later, Stimis followed with a triple of her own, knocking in Saxton and giving Mill Creek an 11-5 lead heading into the sixth inning.
The Lady Hawks kept the Falcons scoreless in the top of the sixth. Mill Creek started the bottom of the inning with a triple by Suzee Mills. Baker batted Mills in two at-bats later to give the Lady Hawks a 12-5 lead. A single by Bullock put two runners on base for the Lady Hawks.
With two outs, Saxton doubled to send Bullock and Mills home and give Mill Creek a 14-5 lead.
Thanks to the mercy rule, the pain ended then for the Falcons. The officials called the game giving the Lady Hawks a 14-5 victory.
Bullock was 5-for-5 for the night with two triples and three singles. Bullock was also credited with the win, pitching three and two-thirds innings.
Saxton was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and five RBIs. Lauren Stimis finished the evening 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Hannah Beth Baker was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Despite the apparent ease with which the Lady Hawks dispatched the Falcons, Mill Creek head coach Kelly Murdock said her team does not take victory for granted.
“They recognize that this is not going to be a cake walk,” she said. “Dacula has a very good team. I think our seniors have that mentality that they refuse to lose.”
Murdock said the Mill Creek seniors understand that it will take a lot of work to achieve their goal of playing for a state championship.
“They understand the steps that it takes to get there. As long as they keep their focus, they’re going to be successful,” she said.
While success may not be guaranteed, the odds are in the Lady Hawks favor. With so many scoring threats, Murdock has a full arsenal with which to attack other teams.
“We’ve had different people all year step up. It’s always somebody different which is nice. It’s nice to know as a coach that we have a lot of options.”
Murdock also had praise for the Mill Creek fans. While softball does not draw the crowds typically associated with football or basketball, the Lady Hawks had a large and vocal contingent of fans present to cheer them on to victory over the Falcons.
“I can’t tell you how much that meant to these girls,” Murdock said. “They had me fired up the whole game. I hope we can continue that. It’s fun to play for people like that. They have been really rooting us on.”
The Lady Hawks traveled to Columbus this past weekend for the Shaw Invitational Tournament.
Mill Creek shut out Columbus, Walton and Northside by a combined score of 19-0. The team’s only loss was a 2-0 defeat by Whitewater.
Morgan Bullock finished the tournament 2-1 and Lauren Kaczynski went 1-0.
Murdock said the tournament was a good way to prepare for 7-AAAAA play.
“It’s another one of those tournaments where wins and losses don’t count,” she said. “It’s a chance for us to continue to get at bats before we start serious region play next week.”