FREEPORT – Late in the game, Emily Bush’s dad and assistant coach Drew Bush came out to the circle to visit the Milledgville pitching star. A Dakota fan yelled, suggesting he take her out.
Bush (13-1) was dominant from start to finish, piling up 17 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout, leading the Missiles to a 5-0 win over Dakota in the Class 1A Aquin Regional championship Saturday afternoon at Highland Community College.
“It goes back to my pitching coach, Aubrey Moran,” Bush said. “I went and saw her Wednesday, and she really helped me work everything out. I’ve been with her for 10 years. I owe a lot of my success to her.”
Milledgeville (23-3) advances to a Dakota Sectional semifinal date with Amboy at approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Dakota (17-6) and Milledgeville split a pair of regular-season games, but Bush was banged up when the Missiles lost to the Indians.
“She batted once and started crying because her back hurt so much,” Milledgeville coach Brad Grenoble said of that game. “So, we shut her down. She just started hitting her stride again last week. She’s strong right now.”
According to Grenoble, Bush’s muscular injuries involved the triceps, biceps and pecs.
“She was all knotted up,” he said. “She took some time off and went to the doctor and rehabbed. She’s good to go now.”
She certainly is. Bush struck out the side three times and struck out every Dakota batter at least once. Only one Indians player reached third base, and only four reached base at all.
“I love when Emily pitches, because she is so disciplined as a player that everybody knows that they can count on her,” said Milledgeville senior Kelsey Hayen, who was 1-for-3.
The Missiles scored the only run they needed in the first inning. Bush reached on a two-out error and was awarded second base on interference when she collided with Dakota first baseman Kendalynn Rockey. Courtesy runner Shannon Graff scored on Morgan Adolph’s RBI single to right center.
Milledgeville made it 3-0 with two runs in the third. WIth runners at second and third, Bush singled to center. Her freshman sister, Ally, scored from third, and Taylor Grenoble was on her way around third when another collision and interference call allowed Grenoble to score.
Kayleigh Leddy led off the fourth with a triple to right and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0. In the fifth, the Bush sisters accounted for the fifth run, as Ally led off with a triple to left-center and scored on Emily’s sacrifice fly to center.
Star of the game: Emily Bush, Milledgeville, 3-hit shutout, 17 strikeouts, 2 RBIs
Key performers: Ally Bush, Milledgeville, 2-3, 3B, 2 runs; Morgan Adolph, Milledgeville, 1-3, RBI
Up next: Dakota Sectional semifinal, Milledgeville vs. Amboy, approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday