DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Alexa Peterson and Chloe Miller both collected three hits to help Cleveland earned a doubleheader split with the Beijing Shougang Eagles at Embry Riddle Softball Stadium on Friday.
Peterson’s first-inning home run wasn’t enough for the Comets as they fell in the first game, 2-1, but she started the second game with a two-run homer in the top of the first and Miller added a solo shot in the seventh to lead Cleveland to a 4-0 win in the second game of the twin bill.
“I’m very proud of the team’s energy all day,” said Cleveland coach Charlotte Morgan. “In game two especially, they came out loud and on fire.”
Jade Rhodes had two hits for the Comets in the first game while Shellie Robinson and Jiang Xinyue also reached base safely.
Randi Rupp took the hard-luck loss in the first game. Liu Mengmeng’s two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth was the difference.
Rupp allowed just the two earned runs on five hits and struck out a pair.
Robinson opened the second game with an infield single and Peterson hit the second pitch she saw over the fence in left field to give the Comets an early 2-0 lead.
Peterson finished the day 3-for-6 with two runs scored and three runs batted in. She is now leading the team with a .371 batting average.
“I’m seeing balls and strikes well right now which really helps me feel confident in the box,” Peterson said. “Overall, as a team, I think we’re doing better at having quality at-bats and productive outs by moving runners. We are all starting to gain confidence at the plate and on defense that we can compete every day and win games.”
Gretchen Aucoin was nearly flawless for the Comets in picking up her second win of the season.
She retired the first seven batters she faced then pitched out of a jam in the third and finished the game with just four hits allowed and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Rupp relieved Aucoin in the bottom of the sixth with two runners on and one out. She retired the next five batters to pick up her second save of the season.
“Honestly, it’s a testament to how great our team is,” Aucoin said. “Us pitchers have an amazing support system. We each have great confidence in one another to do our best job in the circle at all times. Randi did a phenomenal job to pitch game one and come in for game two with her stuff working even better. That’s not easy to do, especially in these beautifully hot Florida days. Our offense really got it going early in the game by putting two runs on the board in the first. The girls just kept attacking. They made it easy to feed off that energy and continue it through every aspect of the game.”
Miller opened the seventh with an opposite-field home run to left and Robinson doubled home another insurance run for the Comets.
“Gretchen threw great and controlled the game on the field and Randi closed well for us,” Morgan said. “Chloe had a great day at the plate. I thought everyone was in the game from the first pitch to the last.”
Miller finished the day 3-for-6 with a run scored and an RBI.
“Today, I got told to finally grow up and use a (National Pro Fastpitch) bat, so that’s what I did and it looks like it worked out well. It’s really just taking each at-bat one by one and knowing what I’m looking for before I step into the box. From there, I just swing hard and hope I make contact.”
Miller, who is now batting .324 in her rookie season, has hit safely in nine of Cleveland’s 13 games. Friday was her first multi-hit game.
“It felt pretty good, to be honest,” Miller said of her big day, which earned her the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game award. “Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to squeeze a single by the infield over the past handful of games but never at the right time so it was nice to have a few extra bases under my belt and be able to get the girls in that worked hard to get on base in the first place.”