Belles Swept by Sixth-Ranked Thunder, Earn Spot in MIAA Tournament
ANGOLA, Ind. - The Saint Mary's softball team was swept in their final regular season doubleheader by 5-2 and 9-0 (5 innings) scores against No. 6 ranked Trine.
In the opener, the Belles had the Thunder on the ropes early by jumping out to a 2-0 lead through the first half-inning of play. Jamie Young started off the game with a single to center field. Two batters later, Cassie Young beat out a single to the second baseman to put runners at the corners with one out. Jillian Busfield came up and drove in Jamie with a single to right field, and Cassie moved from first to third on the play. Morgan Raymer drew a two-out walk, and Makenzie Duncan drove in Cassie with a double to left-center field to put the Belles up 2-0.
The defense kept the Belles ahead in the early innings as Saint Mary's forced the Thunder into stranding a runner on on second base in both the first and second innings. In the third inning, however, Trine took over the lead with a two-out, three-run home run to left field for a 3-2 advantage.
Saint Mary's threatened to draw even in the top of the fifth inning. Sarah Callis dropped a one-out single into center field and moved into scoring position when the Thunder committed a fielding error on a ball batted by Jillian Busfield to keep the inning alive. But the two-out rally was stopped short with an infield ground out to end the fifth.
The Thunder added a run in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run before scoring an additional run in the bottom of the sixth with a double and a two-out single. The 5-2 lead proved to be enough. The Belles hit back-to-back singles in the top of the seventh inning to send the potential game-tying run to the plate, but Saint Mary's was unable to push either runner across as the game ended 5-2 in favor of the Thunder.
Jamie Young went 3-for-4 in game one and scored a run. Sarah Callis also had a 3-for-4 effort at the dish in the opener for the Belles. Cassie Young tallied a pair of hits and scored once. Jillian Busfield and Makenzie Duncan each drove in a run as the Belles tallied 10 hits in the contest.
Morgan Raymer went 5.2 innings and struck out a pair while allowing five runs. Mary Green came on in relief and drew a ground out against the only batter she faced in the sixth.
In game two, the Thunder scored three runs in the first, one in the second, and two in the third to jump out to a big 6-0 lead through the first three innings.
The strong hitting offense from game one for the Belles, however, had trouble stringing together hits in game two. In the bottom of the third, Saint Mary's had their first solid chance of scoring a run in the game. Caitlyn Migawa dropped a lead-off single into left-center field, and Victoria Connelly came in to pinch run. Three batters later, Jamie Young beat out a bunt single to put runners on first and second. A ground out a batter later saw the Belles come up empty-handed in the inning.
The defense came up with a pair of plays in the fourth inning to keep the Thunder off the scoreboard. After a lead-off single, Jillian Busfield cut down the runner trying to steal second base to the first out of the inning. Two batters later, Angela Dainelli nearly turned a double play on a tag out and throw to first to get the lead runner out. On the next play with a runner at first, Cassie Young tracked a high-arcing ball toward the fence but was unable to make the catch. The freshman, however, quickly made a throw to second base, and Jamie Young tagged out the runner before the would-be RBI double as the Belles recorded the out before the runner had a chance to cross home plate.
Trine, however, plated three more runs in the top of the fifth inning to go ahead 9-0. The Belles needed a least two runs to keep the game alive in the bottom of the fifth. Makenzie Duncan put the Belles in the right direction by leading off the inning with a double to left-center field. Migawa then laced an infield single to shortstop to put two runners on base. Unfortunately, the next three batters went down in order to end the game.
Caitlyn Migawa was 2-for-2 with a pair of singles while Jamie Young, Sarah Callis, and Makenzie Duncan each added a hit.
Emily Najacht shouldered the game-two loss after surrendering three runs in one-third of an inning of work. Sarah Burke struck out two in 2.1 innings and allowed three runs. Jessica Alberts closed out the final 2.1 innings of play and also allowed three runs.
The Belles (22-12, 9-7 MIAA) finished fourth in the conference's regular season standings and earned their first berth into the top-four only MIAA Tournament since the 2012 season. The tournament begins on Thursday, April 30 at regular season champion Trine. The Belles face off against the host Thunder in the second game of the tournament, which is scheduled to begin at approximately 1:00 p.m.