Molly Millar picked the right time to deliver her best pitching performance of the season.
With sole possession of first place in the Tri-River Athletic Conference softball race and the likely top seed in the Central Section Division I playoffs on the line, Millar fired a one-hitter as The Bee’s second-ranked Buchanan High knocked off No. 1 Clovis 1-0 Tuesday on the Bears’ home field.
Buchanan (22-5 overall) improves to a TRAC-leading 8-1, clinching no worse than a tie for its first league title since 2011.
“It was a huge team effort,” Millar said. “We were just really pumped for this game. We were all on today. It was really nice.”
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Millar was perfect through 4 1/3 innings before hitting Emily Puente with a two-ball, two-strike pitch. She rebounded with consecutive strikeouts of Grace Henson and Jenna Scarborough.
Clovis’ Ashley Kincaid broke up Millar’s no-hit bid with a slicing single that dropped just in front of sliding Buchanan right fielder Hunter Sansom with one out in the sixth. Millar retired the next two batters – Taylor Tiger on a sacrifice and Mackenzie Byrd on a liner to first.
Millar issued a lead-off walk to Alyssa Caballero to open the seventh but got Jordyn Martinez on a grounder to third, Puente on a pop up to second and Henson for her 10th strikeout of the game.
We were just really pumped for this game. We were all on today. It was really nice.
Buchanan’s Molly Millar, who pitched a one-hitter in the Bear’s 1-0 victory over Clovis for sole possession of first place in the TRAC
Millar’s previous best outings were two-hit shutouts of Clovis East on April 15 and Clovis North on April 26. She had given up one run, allowed on a base hit that Sansom made a dead sprint to catch up to at the wall in right but couldn’t catch, during a 1-0 loss to Clovis on April 25.
“She’s been dealing during league. I knew she was capable of this,” Buchanan coach Dean Gregory said. “She was working ahead and throwing strikes, and she’s tough when she does that.”
The Bears scored the only run in the third when Katie Jackson led off by getting hit by a Danielle Lung pitch, advancing to second on Spencer Sansom’s sacrifice and scoring on Faith Rousey’s two-out, two-strike single to center.
Lung, who pitched Clovis to the section’s Division I title last season, finished with a three-hitter and seven strikeouts.
“We came ready to play. We really wanted this game,” Rousey said. “I knew I needed to step up for my team. We had worked hard to get in that situation.”
Clovis (22-4, 7-2) lost for only the second time against section opposition this season.
The TRAC champion appears to be in line to receive Division I’s top seed when playoff pairings for the section’s six divisions are announced Saturday. Stockdale, the Southwest Yosemite League leader and top contender out of Kern County, has lost to TRAC third-place Clovis East as well as to Division II Madera and El Diamante and Division IV Mission Oak.
County/Metro Athletic Conference-leading Bullard is 2-6 against TRAC schools, including 1-2 against Buchanan and 0-2 against Clovis.
“I felt the winner of this game should be No. 1,” Gregory said. “But we can’t control that.”