BEDFORD — Brookville has struggled at the plate lately, often striking out 13 to 14 times per game.
Facing Seminole District powerhouse Liberty and its celebrated lefty Millie Thompson on Tuesday night, the Bees finally had enough.
The bats came alive with a four-run sixth inning, first baseman Skyler Winfield delivered a go-ahead two-run bomb and the Bees swept their rival with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at Liberty High.
“I’ve been saying that I didn’t think we were that 15 strikeout team,” BHS coach Gary Ferguson said after his star pitcher, Madison Harris, escaped a tough seventh-inning jam for the win, bouncing back from last week’s loss to Jefferson Forest. “Tonight we got going a little bit. I hope this is a boost for us.”
The sudden burst of offense came after Thompson had held the Bees (15-3) hostage for the first five innings.
The fiery junior allowed just one hit in the first five frames on a night when she recorded her 600th career strikeout in the second inning, fanning Winfield to notch the milestone.
Ironic, then, that is was Winfield, mired in a slump, who eventually delivered the go-ahead homer in dramatic fashion.
With the Minettes (14-4) leading 2-0 in the top of the sixth, Bees cleanup hitter Alexis Ferguson basted a two-out run-scoring double to the gap in left-center. The next batter, designated player Maddi Walker, tied the game at 2-2 with a liner to right.
That set the stage for Winfield, who was patient at the plate before uncorking her fourth homer of the season, a no-doubter that sailed over the scoreboard in left and gave BHS a 4-2 lead.
“At this time of the year, it’s important to step up and do big things, because you’ve got to play every game like it’s your last,” Winfield said.
Brookville players and their visiting faithful suddenly roared, quelling the shouts and chants that had come from the home dugout in the previous five innings.
“I just knew I had to do something for my team,” Winfield added. “Tonight we set a goal. We wanted to hit better.”
Thompson surrendered only five hits and had eight strikeouts, but it was the BHS rally the Minettes couldn’t quite overcome.
They tried, though. Taylor Friess delivered her own homer in the bottom of the sixth, a solo shot to center. The Minettes right fielder went 3 for 4 with two stolen bases on the night. Liberty scored its first two runs on a RBI single by Kacey Whorley in the first and on a BHS error in the fourth.
Friess’ homer was her fifth of the season.
“We fight tooth and nail every chance that we can,” Friess said. “That’s basically what it comes down to. We love to feel like we’re united and that we’re a team. I felt like we could have come together a little better tonight, but we still fought extremely hard.”
Harris escaped numerous jams, getting out of a bases-loaded predicament in the first, stranding two runners in the second and getting three straight outs against the heart of the LHS lineup in the seventh, leaving the tying run stranded at first after issuing a leadoff walk.
Harris finished with 13 strikeouts.
“I knew that if we could start hitting [Thompson] and if I could get the outs like I needed, then we could win this game,” she said. “It’s not one of my better outings, but it’s definitely one for the books. They’re one of our biggest rivals. Beating them is big thing.”