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Belles Secure MIAA Tournament Berth in Split Versus Bulldogs

Catcher JoAnna Keilman catches a pitch in a game.
ADRIAN, Mich. - The Saint Mary's softball team claimed a 3-1 win in game one against Adrian before falling in game two by a 5-2 score to earn the fourth seed in next week's top-four MIAA Tournament.
Kelsey Keilman led game one off with a single to center field. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved up to third on a ground out to the right side of the infield by Madelynne Keller. JoAnna Keilman then drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly as Kelsey Keilman tagged up to score on the play.
The Bulldogs threatened in the bottom of the second inning by putting a pair of runners into scoring position with two outs, but Zoe Bruni shut the door emphatically with a strike out to end the inning. Adrian again put two runners into scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs gone. This time, Bruni drew a foul pop up to Alyssa Gutierrez at third base to shut down the scoring chance.
Bruni led off the top of the fifth with a double, but the Belles were unable to capitalize on the chance as a ground out as three consecutive outs saw the Bulldogs come back up to bat unscathed.
The Belles added two big runs in the top of the sixth inning. Kelsey Keilman led things off with a single, and Madelynne Keller moved the junior into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. JoAnna Keilman then put runners on the corners with a single to left field before stealing second to get a pair of Belles into scoring position. Mandi Hettinger then hit a single off of third base and into left field, allowing Kelsey Keilman to score. Megan Knudsen then executed a squeeze sacrifice bunt to push JoAnna Keilman across home plate for a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs cut into the Belles' lead in the bottom half of the inning. With a runner at second and two outs gone, Adrian got a single back up the middle. The runner came around from second base to score as Kelsey Keilman's throw to the plate was off the mark. The batter turned runner on the play tried to advance to third base on the throw, but JoAnna Keilman made the throw in more than enough time to Alyssa Gutierrez, who had the easy tag to end the inning.
The Belles made quick work of the Bulldogs in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the win and an MIAA Tournament berth. Bruni got the first batter to strike out swinging before getting a strike out looking for two quick outs. A fly out by the next batter ended the game by the 3-1 margin.
Kelsey Keilman was 3-for-4 in game one with two runs and a stolen base. JoAnna Keilman was 1-for-2 with a stolen base, a run, and an RBI. Mandi Hettinger and Megan Knudsen each added a hit and an RBI. Zoe Bruni went the distance in the circle to earn the complete-game victory. The senior had five strike outs and scattered three hits over seven innings of work while also belting a double to help her own cause.
In game two, both sides stranded runners on base in the first inning of play. The Belles had a 1-2-3 inning on defense in the second before Sydney Swartz collected a two-out single, but the sophomore ended the inning on first base after a ground out closed the inning. Adrian got on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning with a two-run single, but the defense came through with a pair of ground outs to prevent any further damage.
Saint Mary's put a runner on base in both the third and fourth innings but were unable to advance anyone beyond second as the Bulldogs maintained their 2-0 lead. In the top of the fifth, Adrian added a run with a two-out single for a 3-0 advantage. Saint Mary's responded in a big way in the bottom half of the inning. With Kelsey Keilman on base with two outs gone, JoAnna Keilman belted a home run to left field to score the pair and make it a 3-2 game as the Bulldogs opted for a pitching change.
Both sides were retired in order in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, the Belles got two quick outs after Zoe Bruni came in to pitch in relief. A back-to-back singles, however, prolonged the inning for the Bulldogs. Adrian capitalized on the chance as a two-out double plated both runners as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 5-2. Bruni forced the next batter into popping up to Megan Knudsen at shortstop to end the top half of the inning.
Down to their final at-bats, Sydney Swartz led off the bottom of the seventh for the Belles with a single. Three consecutive outs, however, stopped any chance of a comeback in the 5-2 final.
Sydney Swartz was 2-for-3 in game two. JoAnna Keilman smashed a two-run home run, and Kelsey Keilman was 1-for-3 with a run. Alison Alberts added a double for the Belles. Mandi Hettinger shouldered the loss in the circle after going six complete innings and scattering just three hits while striking out two. Zoe Bruni closed out the final inning of play and struck out one batter.

The Belles will compete in their fifth consecutive MIAA Tournament next week, which is hosted by regular season champion Trine. It is the eleventh time Saint Mary's has made the top-four team tournament. The Belles open play against host Trine at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 2. The team will play a second game on Thursday in the double-elimination tournament against either Calvin or Hope.