Tornados open 2009 season with sweep over Virginia Intermont

Gift and Houser throw complete games in Tornados victories

Box Score

Bristol, Va. - The Brevard Tornados opened the 2009 season with a bang, scoring 22 runs in a doubleheader on the road against Virginia Intermont as they swept the Lady Cobras on Wednesday afternoon, 8-3 and 14-0. The Tornados improve to 2-0 with the pair of wins.

Game 1: Brevard 8, Virginia Intermont 3

Jennifer Gift surrendered a three-run blast in the bottom of the first to Kayla Mitchell, before settling down, allowing five hits the rest of the way on the way to recording her first win of the 2009 season. The junior from Durham, N.C. allowed seven hits, and struck out seven, while giving up three unearned runs.

The Tornados opened the game with a walk by Becca Curlee. Kristina Clayton singled her over to second, and then a throwing error by Mitchell allowed Chelsi Mallory to reach first, scoring Curlee from second for the first run of the game. Beth Brooker singled up the middle after Katie Thornburg went down on strikes to drive in Clayton, before Kasey Fagan hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in Mallory. Jennifer Brown popped up to Kristen Dyer to end the inning with Brevard up 3-0.

Virginia Intermont came back in the bottom of the inning as Michelle Kidd reached on a throwing error by Jennifer Brown. The next batter, Brittany Lewis, put a single through the left side of the infield, moving Kidd over to second. After Dyer struck out, Mitchell hit a three-run shot over the right field fence, clearing the bases and tying the game up 3-3.

Brevard added another run in the top of the third, as Mallory reached on a fielding error by the Lady Cobra rightfielder. A single by Brooker advanced Mallory to third. Fagan was hit by a pitch then Jennifer Brown walked to score Mallory, putting the Tornados up 4-3.

After Gift held Virginia Intermont scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, the Tornados blew the game open in the top of the fourth, sending the entire lineup to the plate as they scored three more runs. Curlee, Clayton, and Mallory all came around to score as the Tornados batted around with three hits, a pair of fielder’s choices where everyone was safe all around and a walk as the Tornados took a 7-3 lead.

Brevard pushed across their final run in the top of the sixth as Mallory walked, was moved over to second on a Thornburg sacrifice bunt, and then was driven in on Fagan’s single through the left side of the infield to close out the scoring at 8-3.

The Lady Cobras put two on in the bottom of the seventh against Gift, but a fly ball that Curlee tracked down in center, and a popup to Clayton at short ended the game.

Game 2: Brevard 14, Virginia Intermont 0 (5)

Liz Houser made the best of her debut as a Tornado, facing 17 batters in five innings, two over the minimum needed in the game, while allowing three hits. Houser struck out two in her first shutout of the 2009 season, and was given plenty of offense as the Tornados batted around in the third and the fourth innings to complete the sweep.

The game started out as a classic pitchers duel as Houser and Lady Cobras starter Megan Branson allowed two hits combined in the first two innings, with each retiring the side in the bottom of the first, top of the second.

Virginia Intermont nearly got on the board in the bottom of the second, as Branson tried to score on a single up the middle by Ashley Fields, but a strong throw by Curlee cut Branson down at the plate, preserving the 0-0 tie.

Katie Brown opened the top of the third inning with a single down the left field line. She was moved over to second by Sarah Carlos’ sacrifice bunt. A single through the left side by Curlee advanced Brown to third, before Clayton put a single up the middle, driving in Brown for the first run of the game. Brevard would add six more runs in the inning through scattered singles and an error by the Lady Cobras first baseman, before Branson was able to get out of the inning down 7-0.

After Houser set Virginia Intermont down in order in the bottom of the third, the Tornados came back up with the top of the order ready to do more damage. Curlee and Clayton opened the inning with back-to-back singles, and a Mallory sacrifice bunt moved them into scoring position. Following a Thornburg walk, Brooker singled up the middle, driving in Curlee. After the single, Branson struggled to locate the strike zone, giving up walks to Fagan and Jennifer Brown, putting in two more runs, before Katie Brown launched a double down the left field line, clearing the bases. A single by Clayton scored Brown with two outs as the Tornados used two straight 7-run innings to go up 14-0.

Houser meanwhile, gave up a double to Kidd to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but sat the next six Lady Cobra batters in order, catching Melissa Hudgins looking at strike three to end the game due to the NAIA 8-run rule

The Tornados face off with the Lady Cobras again on Sunday, February 15th, as Virginia Intermont makes the return trip to Brevard, N.C. First pitch for the VI-Brevard game is set for 1 p.m.

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