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Belles Eliminate Flying Dutch, Fall to Champion Knights in MIAA Tournament

Several members of the Saint Mary's softball team huddle together at the start of an inning.
ANGOLA, Ind. - The Saint Mary's softball team battled all day long but saw the season come to a close in the MIAA Tournament championship game.
Facing off against Calvin to start the day, the Knights plated three runs with two outs in the top of the second inning. The Belles responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Molly Mirabelli drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Sydney Swartz singled up the middle as Mirabelli came around from second to score on the play. 
Saint Mary's got out of a jam in the top of the third. Calvin led off the inning by putting their first two batters on base. A sacrifice bunt advanced the pair, but Zoe Bruni dialed in a strikeout before drawing a come-back grounder for the easy play at first to end the inning. Kelsey Keilman then led off the bottom of the inning with a walk. Natalie Quinlan moved Keilman up to second with a sacrifice bunt, and the junior then stole third to get into scoring position with two outs gone. A ground out, however, ended the scoring chance. 
Saint Mary's forced Calvin into stranding runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth. The Belles, meanwhile, had runners on first and second in both the fifth and sixth but were unable to get a much-needed hit to chip away at the deficit. The Knights broke through with four big runs in the top of the seventh, and the Belles were unable to put together the late comeback as the 7-1 final put Saint Mary's into an elimination game match up against Hope.
Molly Mirabelli was 2-for-2 in the first game of the day with a run. Kelsey Keilman, Krystal Harris, Sydney Swartz, and Alyssa Gutierrez each had a hit while Swartz drove in the Belles' run. Zoe Bruni suffered the loss after going 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts.
Against Hope, the Flying Dutch used a pair of two-out hits to take a 1-0 lead through the first inning of play. The Belles left a runner on third in the first, second, and third innings offensively while forcing Hope into stranding a runner on third in both the fourth and fifth innings.
In the top of the sixth, Saint Mary's erupted for six runs to change the momentum of the game. The Belles sent 11 hitters to the dish in the inning as every batter for the Belles reached base safely the first time she was up to bat. Mandi Hettinger, Megan Knudsen, Alison Alberts, Sydney Swartz, and Krystal Harris started the inning with five consecutive singles to give the Belles a lead they would not relinquish. Alyssa Gutierrez drew a bases loaded walk, and Kelsey Keilman and Molly Mirabelli tacked on singles of their own. JoAnna Keilman then belted a double, but back-to-back outs put a stop in the scoring output as the Belles took a 6-1 lead.
Saint Mary's retired Hope in order in the sixth, but the Flying Dutch scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 6-4 game. Mandi Hettinger, however, drew a routine fly out to Kelsey Keilman in center field to end the game as the Belles advanced to take on Calvin again.
Mirabelli went 3-for-4 with two RBI against Hope. Kelsey Keilman, JoAnna Keilman, Alison Alberts, and Krystal Harris each collected two hits in the balanced offensive effort by the Belles. Mandi Hettinger went the distance in the circle as she struck out three and walked just one.
Needing to beat Calvin twice in the double-elimination tournament championship format, the Belles carried over the momentum from the win over Hope by plating two runs in the top of the first inning against the Knights. Kelsey Keilman hit a lead-off single, and Molly Mirabelli moved her up 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt. JoAnna Keilman then dropped a double down the right field line and moved to third on the throw as Kelsey Keilman slid into home to score. Mandi Hettinger bounced a single up the middle to plate JoAnna Keilman for the 2-0 advantage.
Defensively, the Belles shut down a scoring chance for Calvin in the bottom half of the first. The Knights hit a one-out single and added a double to put two runners into scoring position. Hettinger drew a ground out to Alyssa Gutierrez at third, and Alison Alberts tracked down a foul ball just in front of the Calvin dugout to shut the door on the inning.
Calvin, however, used a three-run home run to fuel a four-run fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Saint Mary's came right back with a run in the top of the fifth. Kelsey Keilman singled through the left side, and Molly Mirabelli picked up a single to right field. JoAnna Keilman then drove in Kelsey Keilman for the second time in the game with a single through the right side. A double play by the Knights, however, stopped the Belles from inflicting any further damage. Calvin countered with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
Saint Mary's had a scoring chance in the top of the sixth. Alison Alberts drew a walk as Olivia Lathers came in to pinch run. Sydney Swartz laced a single to left field before being forced out on a fielder's choice by Krystal Harris, which resulted in runners on the corners for Saint Mary's. The Belles were unable to get a hit as the pair were left at the corners to end the inning. Calvin then retired the Saint Mary's side in order in the top of the seventh to preserve the 5-3 final score.
JoAnna Keilman was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run. Kelsey Keilman was 2-for-4 with two runs, and Sydney Swartz went 2-for-3 against Calvin. Mandi Hettinger suffered the pitching loss after going 3.2 innings despite allowing just two earned runs. Hailey Hisaw closed out the final 2.1 innings and scattered three hits over that span.

The Belles end the season 15-24 overall.