HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL

Buchholz, Wilkerson get revenge over Columbia with 6-1 victory


Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:24 a.m.

Two days after perhaps their most humbling loss of the season at No. 1 Tallahassee Chiles, the Buchholz Bobcats softball team got a form of redemption Thursday on their field.

Pitcher Jessica Wilkerson scattered six hits and Buchholz erupted for five runs in the later innings to beat Class 6A No. 9 Columbia, 6-1.

For the Tigers (11-2), who cruised over the Bobcats 12-2 at their place a month ago, it was a case of missed opportunities that came back to haunt them. Among the most blatant: leaving the bases-loaded in the first two innings; having a running error wipe out a potential score in the fifth; and having a player, who tried to turn a single into a double, being thrown out at second because she didn’t slide.

Meanwhile, Buchholz (12-8) took advantage of its opportunities, particularly in the fifth and sixth inning. And Wilkerson, who was a bit shaky in the first after giving up an unearned run, settled down and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way against a potent-hitting Tiger squad.

“We played a couple teams pretty tough but were unable to win,” said Bobcats coach Butch Monaghan, whose team lost 10-0 in five innings at Chiles on Tuesday. “That pitcher for us, Jessica Wilkerson ... that’s a quality team that averages six to seven runs a game. And to hold them to one is beyond what I could hope for.”

Nikysha Brown’s double in the third got the Bobcats’ offense going. After a passed ball moved her to third, she scored on Marie Thomas’ bunt single, the first of two of for the game, to tie the game 1-1.

After back-to-back singles by Buchholz’s Erin Eiland and Thomas (on another bunt) to open the bottom of the fifth, Columbia coach Jimmy Williams pulled starter Erin Anderson for Ashley Shoup. But Taylor Nilsson had a run-scoring groundout and Ke-ana Curry followed with a single to short left for a 3-1 Bobcat lead.

Buchholz opened the sixth with a walk and back-to-back batters who were hit by pitch to load the bases with no outs. With Anderson returning as pitcher, junior Cassidy McDilda drove in a run on a fielder’s choice, and Nilsson followed with a RBI single to left-center. McDilda, a Florida State commit, scored on Columbia’s third error for a commanding 6-1 lead going into the seventh.

“We just didn’t adjust to their pitching,” Williams said. “Their coach did a good job calling pitches. He was keeping the ball down and all we could do was try to lift it. We had 10 fly balls.

“You let teams hang around and hang around, next thing you know, they think they can win. There was not one thing right we did the whole game. But I would rather have a bad game now then later in the season.”

With Gator softball coach Tim Walton in the audience, UF commit Kayli Kvistad of Columbia was walked three times and hit by a pitch. Kvistad, a power-hitting shortstop, was The Sun’s 2011 Big School Player of the Year as a freshman.

Getting little to hit is nothing new for Kvistad, who Williams said has faced similar pitching all season.

“Usually what they will do is hit her once a game,” Williams said. “I did tell her that I am pretty proud of you that you don’t go chasing stuff. Your patience is remarkable that you don’t go chasing bad pitches and develop bad habits.”

Buchholz returns to action next Tuesday at District 1-7A rival Ocala Forest, the only team that has beaten Chiles this season.

“And we have beaten Forest, so comparing scores doesn’t work,” Monaghan said. “We are in a really tough district.

“We gave them (Columbia) those chances early by making some errors. When we make plays behind Jess, she is tough. After we got through that, we kind of settled in. I knew we could get to their pitcher eventually.”

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