Belles Split with Nationally-Ranked Cardinals
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - The Saint Mary's softball team handed No. 11 ranked North Central their first loss of the year in game one with a 6-4 decision against the Cardinals before falling 7-4 in game two.
In the opener, the host Cardinals took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. The Belles were able to draw even in the top of third. Sarah Callis and Jamie Young had back-to-back singles, and the pair advanced 60 feet on an infield ground out by Kayla Raymer. Cassie Young then laced a single to third base, which allowed Callis to score from third to knot the game at 1-1.
The big inning in the game was the fifth. After the Belles forced the Cardinals into stranding a pair of runners in the bottom of the fourth, the Saint Mary's offense broke through with four runs in the top of the fifth. Makenzie Duncan singled, and Callis reached on an error as Duncan moved from first to third. Callis swiped second base to get into scoring position, and Duncan scored on a single to shortstop by Jamie Young. Cassie Young drove in Callis from third on a bunt single, and Jillian Busfield singled up the middle to score both Young sisters for the 5-1 Saint Mary's lead.
North Central put a run on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning, but the Belles responded with a run in the top of the sixth. Sarah Callis pounded a double to center field and scored two batters later with Kayla Raymer up, whose batted ball resulted in an error by the Cardinals' third baseman.
The Cardinals did not go quietly in the late innings as they plated a run in the sixth before the Belles got back-to-back fly outs to leave a runner at third. In the last at-bats of the game, North Central tried to put together a two-out rally after scoring a run and having runners on both first and second. Sarah Burke was able to draw an infield pop up to secure the complete game win.
Jamie Young was 3-for-3 at the dish with an RBI and a run scored in the game one victory. Sarah Callis and Cassie Young each added a pair of hits for the Belles. Callis had a double and scored three runs, and Young drove in two runs while scoring a run.
Sarah Burke went the distance in the circle while earning the win. She struck out four and walked two while surrendering four earned runs.
The Belles used the momentum from the game one win to jump out to a 2-0 lead through the first inning of play in game two. Callis and Jamie Young started the game with back-to-back walks. Callis scored on a passed ball, and Young scored with two outs on a single to left field by Jillian Busfield to put the Belles ahead.
The Cardinals, however, countered with a run in the bottom of the second and a four-run outburst in the third to pull ahead. North Central used three singles, an error, and a sacrifice fly to do the damage, which proved to be the difference-making inning of the game.
North Central added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 7-2 game.
This time, the Belles looked to make the late-game comeback. Kelsey Richards led off the top of the seventh with a single to left field, and Makenzie Duncan drove her in with a double while advancing to third on the throw. An error by the Cardinals' left fielder on a ball hit by Sarah Callis allowed Duncan to score to make it 7-4. The Belles then loaded the bases with one out and Jillian Busfield up to bat, but a double play by the Cardinals ended the threat and the game.
Cassie Young had a double and a single to help lead the offense in game two. Makenzie Duncan added an RBI double while scoring a run, and Sarah Callis drew two walks and added a hit while scoring once and driving in one.
Morgan Raymer went 3.1 innings in the circle and struck out two while shouldering the loss. Jessica Alberts came in during the fourth inning and allowed just one hit over 2.2 innings of work.
The Belles (9-5) open up conference play on Tuesday, March 31 when they travel to Adrian for an MIAA doubleheader starting at 3:30 p.m.