Comets down the Spirit in eight innings

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chloe Miller, Jade Rhodes and Shellie Robinson all hit home runs to lead the Cleveland Comets to a 5-4 eight-inning win over the Aussie Spirit at Western Missouri University’s Griffon Softball Field on Thursday.

The Comets scored one run in the top of the eighth inning then held off the Spirit in the bottom half of the inning to seal their second straight win and even the road series at 2-2.

“I think the team did a good job playing it pitch-by-pitch tonight regardless of what happened and played until the end,” said Cleveland coach Charlotte Morgan.

Chloe Miller broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third when she doubled home Yuan Huaining, who had singled.

Miller, the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game, finished 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored and two runs batted in.

“It felt really good to get that win and even up the series with them,” Miller said. “We fought a lot of sloppy calls and sloppy ball but were able to string some base hits together and hold it down long enough on defense to pull out the win.”

A pair of walks, a hit batsman, and a catcher’s interference call led to two Aussie runs in the bottom half of the inning but Miller hit her third home run of the season in the fifth inning to tie it at 2-2.

Miller is now 9-for-18 with three doubles, three home runs and four runs RBI in Cleveland’s six wins this season.

“Every game is a new game,” Miller said. “Coach gave me a few tips that she saw with my swing so I was able to shorten things up and make some contact. I also had a good conversation before the game about having a better approach in the box so those two together just happened to get the job done today.”

Rhodes and Robinson hit solo shots in the sixth to give the Comets a 4-2 lead. Rhodes cleared the left field fence with her second four-bagger of the year and Robinson followed with her fourth home run of the season.

Carmelle Sorensen hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-3 the Spirit hit three straight singles to start the bottom of the seventh but managed just one run to force the extra inning.

Xie Yue drew a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth and Robinson reached on a fielder’s choice that left two runners on and no outs. After a strikeout, Li Na reached on an error that left the bases loaded.

Yuan Huaining then drew a walk to push across the winning run.

The Comets outhit the Spirit, 8-7, to improve their record when outhitting their opponent to 6-0.

“The big emphasis is to put the ball on the ground and make the other team play defense,” Morgan said. “I think they are doing a better job of battling and never giving up in an at-bat. They’re really starting to make adjustments at the plate.”

Aussie rallied in the bottom of the eighth when Stacey Porter reached on an error and Taylah Tsitsikronis hit a one-out double to position the winning run at second base. Devin Brown, who relieved starter Randi Rupp in the sixth, retired the next two batters to pick up her second win in as many days.

Rupp allowed two earned runs on three hits and struck out three in five innings. Brown allowed one run on four hits and struck out two in three innings.

“I’m very proud of the staff so far,” Morgan said. “They are all rookies to the NPF and are learning how the game is played at this level. They continue to want to learn and make adjustments for themselves.”

The Comets and Spirit close out their series with a doubleheader on Friday.

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