Another stellar pitching perforce delivered by Victoria Byrum led Millikan softball to an important 2-0 Moore League win over Wilson on Tuesday at home.
Byrum overcame a shaky start to pitch a complete game shutout. The sophomore gave up three hits, all in the first two innings, and stuck out seven batters.
“I definitely wasn’t dialed in,” Byrum said. “I was just rattled and couldn’t focus on anything. I got there but it took a little bit of time.”
In the first inning, Wilson had two runners on with no outs but a strikeout and double play turned by Byrum on a line drive back to the circle ended the frame. In the second inning, a walk and two hit batters loaded the bases with no outs but Byrum got a pair of strikeouts and a fly ball to end the threat.
“Sometimes all it takes is for us to have a little pep talk,” Millikan catcher Lily Romero said. “We tend to start with low energy and it just takes one little thing to get us going and back on track. I was just telling her, ‘The defense has your back so just throw strikes’.”
Byrum and Romero both said after that game that the rise ball took advantage of a high strike zone and helped get Byrum back on track.
“I feel like we work so well together because she just brings me up,” Byrum said of her and Romero. “If I’m doing bad she’ll call time and tell me, ‘You’re good, you’re better than this.’ She’s also amazing at framing (the pitch) and just keeping me in the game.”
Byrum only faced three batters over the minimum after the first two innings.
“When she gets in the circle and gets her motion going the girls just kind of follow behind,” Millikan coach Akemi Fleming said. “They kind of feed off of each other which is good.”
Romero ended up being the offensive spark for the Rams as well in the fourth inning. After senior Grace Fleming led off with a single, Romero smashed a ground rule double into left field.
“In my first at bat I was really ahead so I wasn’t even looking for the pitch, I was just focusing on driving the ball,” Romero said.
After a walk loaded the bases, Millikan scored the first run on an error, and doubled its lead when Emily Haniff was hit by a pitch.
“She’s been working her butt off and chipping away to get these hits,” coach Fleming said of Romero. “We moved her up in the lineup and she’s been way more consistent. She’s got more confidence in herself. Behind the plate she’s a wall. She’s been like that for the past four years. I’m really proud of her that she’s got into that senior spot as a captain and it’s really starting to show.”
The fourth inning rally also woke up the Millikan dugout that seemed to get louder as the game got longer.
“If you don’t have energy and you’re flat that’s when they get on you,” Romero said. “They jump on you and find that weak spot and they take over. If we can have that energy and we’re the ones getting in your head then the game is ours.”
“They bond really well off the field so on the field they do the same,” coach Fleming said of her young squad. “When they get between the lines that comes natural. The intensity from the girls is nice because they can get each other in the game and keep each other focused.”
Wilson starting pitcher Hailey Houston also pitched well in a complete game performance. The senior scattered five hits and stranded nine runners on base.
Millikan (14-6, 7-1) and Lakewood will play a first-place game at Lisa Fernandez Field on Tuesday. Wilson (13-5, 4-4) hosts Compton on Thursday while the Rams visit Jordan.