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Friday Night
Brakettes Post Dual Comeback Wins on Opening Night

June 3 - The Stratford Brakettes overcame deficits in both games of their Opening Night doubleheader with the Rock Gold (Holland, PA) to claim a pair of hard-fought victories, 4-3 and 9-7.

The 2017 Opening Day Ceremonies began with a moment of silence for 19-year old Brakette Danni Kemp, who passed away in March after a courageous battle with DIPG, a rare and inoperable form of brain cancer. Her parents, Cliff and Melinda Kemp, threw out ceremonial first pitches (photo).

Val Suto was also presented a plaque by Manager John Stratton for winning the 2016 batting title with a .530 average. Suto also took home the award in 2015.

Veteran right-hander Brandice Balschmiter earned the win in the opener, scattering seven hits and striking out nine. After allowing a run in the second and two in the third, Balschmiter settled in and shut down the Rock the rest of the way, giving the Brakettes' bats a chance to climb out of the 3-0 hole.
Balschmiter now has 166 career victories, which is sixth all-time in the team's storied history. All five Brakette pitchers ahead of Balschmiter are National A.S.A. Hall of Famers.

Ashley Worrell started for the Rock Gold, going 5+ innings in a no-decision. She allowed three runs on just three hits, before giving way to Madison Clark in the sixth inning.

Stratford also fought back in the nightcap, quickly overcoming a 6-2 margin with a five-run second inning. Ansonia's Nicole Williams (St. Joseph H.S., Manhattan College) went the distance to pick up her first win as a Brakette.

Rock Gold shortstop Morgan Petty started the scoring in the early game with a solo shot to centerfield, giving the nationally ranked 18-Unders the early 1-0 lead. Meg Sheehan helped add to the lead in the third, as she led off with a walk and stole second. Sydney Stephenson lined a shot back at Balschmiter that struck the Brakettes' ace, and caromed into shallow right field. Sheehan scored and Stephenson wound up at second, stretching the Rock advantage to 2-0.

Balschmiter, who lost considerable time during the 2016 season after breaking her left wrist, was able to push through and stay in the game after enduring the liner.

Stephenson moved up a bag to third on a wild pitch, and came home on a successful double steal with runners at the corners to push the Rock lead to 3-0.

Alexis Bazos (University of Notre Dame) got Stratford on the board in the third, as she led off with her first hit as a Brakette. Bazos moved to second on a hit by Val Suto. Both runners advanced a base on a walk by Denise Denis, and Bazos came home on a groundout by Jolie Duffner (Missouri). The run cut the margin to 3-1 entering the fourth inning.

Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth, and the Brakettes scraped together another run in the home fifth. Player/coach Amber Radomski reached on a throwing error and was run for by Megan Hodgdon (Eastern CT). Hodgdon advanced two bases on a pair of groundouts, and came home from third on a wild pitch with two outs (photo). The run closed the gap to 3-2.

Denis took matters into her own hands in the bottom of the sixth, drilling the first pitch of the inning to right field for a base hit, then stealing second. Former St. Louis Saints' star Duffner, playing in her first game for the Brakettes, drew a walk to put two on. Lauren Pitney (Manhattan College), another newcomer for Stratford, sacrificed both runners over to put two in scoring position. Denis came home with the tying run on a wild pitch, and Duffner scored the eventual game-winner on a single to right by Kaysee Talcik (UMASS-Lowell) for the 4-3 edge.

Balschmiter retired the side in the seventh to secure the victory, as Brakette fans in attendance breathed a sigh of relief. The Rock Gold took one of four contests from Stratford in last year's series, and have provided the Brakettes great competition throughout the teams' rivalry.

Bazos got the ball rolling in the late game with a one-out single in the first frame. Denis followed with a single, and a wild pitch moved both speedsters up a base. Bazos scored on another wild pitch, which pushed Denis to third. After a walk by Duffner, Pitney grounded into a force play at second, scoring Denis in the process. The Brakettes held onto a 2-0 lead entering the second stanza.

The Rock Gold fought right back and scored six in the top of the second. The first six batters up scored in the frame, despite just two hits in the inning. Worrell had one of the base hits in the rally and scored, while Natalie Rios contributed a two-run single and scored a run.

Jenn Vazquez (Manhattan College) was hit by a pitch in her first at-bat for Stratford, stole second, and later scored on a wild pitch. Hodgdon singled and Britt Lampert walked, both scoring when Bazos drove a single to left. Duffner capped the big inning with a two-run double over the head of the rightfielder, putting the Brakettes on top, 7-6.

Worrell blasted a home run down the line in left to open the third inning, tying it up at 7-7. Williams would not budge after that, shutting the Rock Gold down the rest of the way. Williams struck out five in the contest.

Hodgdon led off the home fourth with a walk and went to third on a single by Lampert. Suto walked to load the bases, and Denis sent Hodgdon home with a single to break the stalemate. Duffner picked up another RBI with a bases-loaded walk, closing out the scoring at 9-7.

The teams' managers mutually agreed to end the late game after five innings, and Williams held the Rock Gold scoreless in the top of the fifth to snare the victory.

The Brakettes and Rock Gold will meet up again in a 7:00 doubleheader Saturday night at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field in Stratford, CT. All Brakettes' 2017 games will be live video webcast at brakettes.com.

Friday night, June 2nd vs. Rock 18 Gold (PA)
First Game, 7PM   Second Game - Five innings
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
ROCK GOLD   0 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 7 1
BRAKETTES 0 0 1 0 1 2 x 4 4 0
Batteries: Rock Gold- Ashley Worrell, Madison Clark (6, L) and Alyssa Catron; Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (W, 1-0) and Hannah Cooper
Homerun: Rock Gold- Morgan Petty
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
ROCK GOLD   0 6 1 0 0 7 3 1
BRAKETTES 2 5 0 2 x 9 7 2
Batteries: Rock Gold- Madison Clark, Ashley Worrell (2, L) and Alyssa Catron, Machensie Compton (2); Brakettes- Nicole Williams (W, 1-0) and Jenn Vazquez
Homerun: Rock Gold- Ashley Worrell