DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Alexa Peterson was 4-for-4 with a home run and three runs batted in to lead the Cleveland Comets to a 4-1 win over the host Beijing Shougang Eagles at Embry Riddle Softball Stadium on Tuesday.
The Cleveland win was the first in franchise history.
“It was great for the team and the Comets as a franchise to get that first win,” said Cleveland coach Charlotte Morgan. “They have been working hard every day to get better and it’s awesome to see their hard work pay off. Now, it’s time to keep working and keep getting better.”
The Eagles, who fell to 9-8 overall, struck first with a run in the bottom of the second inning when Li Huan singled and later scored on Liu Li Li’s two-out single.
That was the only run the Eagles would muster off Cleveland pitchers.
Gretchen Aucoin allowed the one earned run on five hits and struck out two in picking up her first professional victory. Devin Brown threw two scoreless innings and Randi Rupp closed out the seventh for the Comets.
“I was just attacking my spots and letting my spins work,” Aucoin said. “(Catcher) Chloe (Miller) does a great job of mixing pitches and sticking their movement. She’s been a big part of my confidence in the circle.”
Aucoin was especially pleased to add her name to the Cleveland Comets record book for the first pitching victory in franchise history.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so thankful and blessed to have been asked to be a part of an organization that has brought together such great girls. We did a great job on defense and were able to push ourselves on top offensively. If we keep that same energy and attack, we will have more wins to come.”
Peterson hit the first pitch she saw in the top of the fourth inning over the fence in left center to tie the game and Jade Rhodes followed that with a double to left. Rhodes moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Miller’s double to right center.
Miller’s RBI proved to be decisive but the Comets added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh.
Liu Fei Fei got things going with a one-out single up the middle and Shellie Robinson followed with her only hit of the game. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and scored on Peterson’s single to left.
“After coming so close to winning a couple of times, it was so great to finally come out on top,” Peterson said. “It was obviously emotional because it was our program’s first win and the fact that we did so as a whole team effort.”
After leaving home at 3:00 a.m. to fly to Florida, the Comets faced another obstacle when Mother Nature forced first pitch to be thrown at 9:30 p.m. instead of the original 7:05 start time.
“We could have made that an excuse to not be mentally or physically ready, but we discussed it before the game and decided we were not going to my let it faze us,” Peterson said. “(The win) definitely helped our team’s confidence. When we stick to making all the routine plays, make good throws, pitcher’s keeping the ball on the corners, and our offense having quality at-bats, we can beat anyone. We were successful in each of those areas last night and that is why we won. If we continue to keep it simple and do the fundamentals right we are going to keep getting those W’s.”
Peterson now has six hits in her last nine at-bats.
“I’ve been trying to improve daily on being aggressive in the zone with the intent to do damage on every swing,” she said. “I did not want to get beat so I was focused on thinking, ‘yes, yes, no,’ or ‘yes, yes, swing.’ Although I may not have squared up the ball on all my hits, that’s just the way the game of softball is. Sometimes a dinker may be your only hit of the day, yet you get out three other times on hard-hit balls.”
The Comets played their second straight error-free game and outhit an opponent for the first time this season, 8-6.
Zhao Xinxing took the loss for the Eagles. She allowed two runs on three hits and struck out four in three innings. Angel Bunner also gave up two earned runs on five hits and struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings of work and Emily Watson struck out the only batter she faced in the seventh.