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Belles Come Up Just Short Three Times

Six players huddle together before starting the next inning on defense.
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Saint Mary's softball team fell 3-2 against Hamline and were just short in a 4-2 final against Case Western Reserve University on Thursday. The Belles added a game against Millikin after two days of rain outs in Arizona but were on the wrong side of a 5-2 final late on Thursday evening.
The Belles had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning. Kelsey Keilman was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a ground out, and advanced to third on a passed ball. The junior, however, was left 60 feet from home plate as another ground out ended the threat. The Pipers took the lead in a big way in the bottom half of the same inning with a one-out two-run home run.
Sydney Swartz drew a lead-off walk in the fifth inning, JoAnna Keilman walked, and Kelsey Keilman drove in Swartz with a single to make it a 2-1 game. In the sixth, Megan Knudsen hit a lead-off single and scored two batters later on a double by Zoe Bruni to tie the game at 2-2. The Pipers, however, responded with a run in the bottom of the sixth with a triple and a squeeze bunt to gain a 3-2 lead. Saint Mary's was retired in order in the seventh as the game ended by that same 3-2 score.
Kelsey Keilman posted a hit and drove in a run, and Megan Knudsen had a hit and scored a run against Hamline. Zoe Bruni drove in a run on a double in her lone plate appearance of the game but shouldered the pitching loss despite striking out 10 batters.
Case Western Reserve University, who made the NCAA Division III Softball Championship final field of eight teams in 2018, posted four runs in the top of the first inning. The Spartans used five hits, including a double and a triple, for the quick 4-0 advantage.
Knudsen led off the bottom of the second with a single to center field. An error by the Spartans put Alison Alberts on base with Knudsen, and Mandi Hettinger drew a walk to load the bases. JoAnna Keilman drew a walk of her own two batters later to push Knudsen across home plate. Kelsey Keilman then drew a two-out walk to score Hettinger as the Belles cut the deficit in half. Each team, however, was able to get just one runner into scoring position over the remainder of the contest as neither side was able to advance that runner beyond second base as the Spartans claimed the 4-2 win.
Megan Knudsen went 2-for-3 with a run. Mandi Hettinger tallied a hit and scored a run. Kelsey Keilman was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Hailey Hisaw shouldered the loss in the circle after going all seven innings and striking out four while walking none.
The Belles struck first in the final game of the day with a run in the top of the second inning. Mandi Hettinger reached on an error, advanced to second on a single by Sydney Swartz, and moved to third on a fielder's choice by Natalie Quinlan. An error on a hit ball by Alyssa Guttierez allowed Hettinger to cross home plate for the 1-0 lead.
The Big Blue came back with three unearned runs in the third inning and two runs in the fourth for a 5-1 lead. Saint Mary's put the pressure on the defense in the fourth as the Belles twice had a runner on third base, but Saint Mary's was unable to get either runner to score. Neither team had much luck getting the offense to go over the next two innings until it came down to the final at-bats for the Belles. Molly Mirabelli led off the seventh with a single, and fielder's choice on Megan Knudsen's batted ball put the senior on first while Mirabelli was out at second. Two batters later, Mandi Hettinger drove in Knudsen to make it a 5-2 game. The Belles, however, were unable to keep the late-game rally alive as the contest ended by that same 5-2 score.
Six different players had a hit for Saint Mary's. Knudsen and Hettinger each scored a run for the Belles.

The Belles (1-8) close out their trip to Arizona with contests against Millikin and Gustavus Adolphus at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. MST in Tucson.