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Belles Stay in Thick of Tournament Talk with Split Against Flying Dutch

Krystal Harris prepares to catch a fly ball in the outfield.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After falling 4-1 in the opener, the Saint Mary's softball team prevailed in game two against visiting Hope with a 5-4 win to stay in the thick of things for a spot in the top-four MIAA Tournament next week.
In game one, the Flying Dutch took the lead in the top of the third inning with a pair of unearned runs. Saint Mary's had a chance to cut into the deficit in the bottom half of the frame. Megan Knudsen reached on an error, and Krystal Harris dropped a single into right field to put two runners aboard with no outs. The Belles, however, were unable to advance the pair any further as three consecutive outs ended the chance.
In the top of the fifth, the Belles got out of a jam with two big defensive plays. A one-out triple by Hope put a runner on third base, but a hard-hit ball by the next batter was deflected by Alyssa Gutierrez to Megan Knudsen. Knudsen picked up the ball and fired it home in time to cut down the runner as JoAnna Keilman tagged the runner before she could get to the plate. The next batter for Hope hit a single down the left field line, but Krystal Harris delivered an on-the-mark throw to get the runner out who was trying to go from first to third on the play to end the inning.
The Flying Dutch doubled their lead in the top of the seventh inning with a single, a sacrifice bunt, a triple and a double to make it a 4-0 game. The Belles continued to fight until the end as Saint Mary's put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. Megan Knudsen bounced a single through the left side of the infield, and Krystal Harris added a single through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Kelsey Keilman then dropped a single into center field, allowing Knudsen to score from second. The comeback in game one, however, was not to be as a ground out ended the game by the 4-1 margin.
Megan Knudsen went 2-for-3 with a run, and Krystal Harris added a 2-for-3 showing at the plate. Kelsey Keilman was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Zoe Bruni suffered the loss in the circle after allowing just two earned runs and striking out three in the complete game effort.
Playing as the visiting team in game two of the conference doubleheader, the Belles struck in the top of the first inning. Madelynne Keller hit a one-out double to right-center field, and Mandi Hettinger drove her in with a two-out single down the right field line two batters later.
Defensively, the Belles put the stop to a two-out rally in the bottom half of the first inning after Hope had runners on first and second. Mandi Hettinger drew a ground out to end the inning as the Belles held the 1-0 advantage. The Flying Dutch, however, pulled even with a two-out run in the bottom of the second inning.
Saint Mary's put a runner into scoring position in the top of the third inning. Kelsey Keilman bounced a single to shortstop, and Madelynne Keller advanced the junior to second with a sacrifice bunt. Back-to-back outs, however, halted the scoring chance for Saint Mary's. The Belles returned the favor to Hope in both the fourth and fifth innings Saint Mary's forced the Flying Dutch into stranding runners on first and second in the fourth inning and a runner on second in the fifth inning.
The Belles regained the upper hand with a three-run sixth inning. Hettinger and Molly Mirabelli hit consecutive one-out singles, and Megan Knudsen moved the pair up with a sacrifice bunt. Sydney Swartz delivered a big single through the left side to plate Hettinger. Krystal Harris then used a single of her own through the left side to push Mirabelli across from third base to make it 3-1. Alyssa Gutierrez dropped a single into center field to plate Swartz from second base as the Belles went ahead 4-1.
The Flying Dutch swayed the momentum in their favor with a big two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third, Hope had a triple down the left field line to plate both runners to cut the Belles' lead to 4-3. The next batter then hit a double to left field to knot the game, but Hettinger drew a come-back grounder and got the next batter out to keep the game tied.
Madelynne Keller got the momentum right back on the Saint Mary's side with a one-out triple to left field. JoAnna Keilman then drove in Keller with a fielder's choice grounder to put the Belles back on top. Keilman advanced to second on the same play, but Saint Mary's was unable to add to the lead.
Hope threatened to tie or take a walk-off win in the bottom half of the seventh inning. A one-out single was followed by a fielder's choice that saw both runners advance safely. Hettinger, however, drew an easy fly out to left field by the next batter before closing out the game with a foul fly ball to Krystal Harris in left field for the 5-4 final.
Madelynne Keller was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, and two runs in game two. Krystal Harris added a 2-for-3 performance with an RBI and a triple. Mandi Hettinger was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Sydney Swartz drove in a run and scored a run. Alyssa Gutierrez and JoAnna Keilman each posted an RBI, and Molly Mirabelli scored a run. Hettinger earned the complete-game win in the circle with a strikeout and just one walk.

The Belles (12-21, 8-6 MIAA) travel to Adrian for their final doubleheader of the regular season. The outcome of the doubleheader as well as the outcomes of several other games in the league will determine whether or not Saint Mary's earns a berth in the top-four MIAA Tournament next week. Game one against Adrian begins at 1:00 p.m.