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Belles Fall to Undefeated Cardinals

Six players, all wearing navy blue uniforms, huddle up prior to the start of an inning.
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - The Saint Mary's softball team came up just short in 5-2 and 4-1 losses against undefeated North Central on Saturday afternoon.
The Belles had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning against the Cardinals. Madelynne Keller had a one-out double to center field and moved to third on a ground out, but the sophomore would end the inning on third base as another ground out ended the frame. North Central took advantage of an error in the first inning to plate a run for a quick lead. The Belles got out of a jam in the bottom of the second as Saint Mary's forced the Cardinals to strand runners on second and third.
North Central doubled their lead with a home run in the third inning before plating three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning for a 5-0 lead. The Belles broke through in the top of the sixth inning. Megan Knudsen hit a one-out triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mandi Hettinger to get the offense going. Down to their final at-bats, the Belles continued to battle. Zoe Bruni led off the inning with a double and moved up to third on a ground out. Kelsey Keilman drove in Bruni two batters later with a single to second base to make it 5-2 with two outs. The rally for Saint Mary's was ended there, however, as a fielder's choice ended the game.
Kelsey Keilman went 2-for-4 in the opener with an RBI. Mandi Hettinger added a hit and an RBI. Megan Knudsen was 1-for-3 with a triple and a run, and Zoe Bruni was 1-for-2 with a double and a run. Bruni shouldered the loss in the circle after going five complete innings with two strike outs.
The Cardinals plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning and added another run in the bottom of the third for a 4-0 advantage of game two. The Belles used a quick 1-2-3 inning on defense in the bottom of the fifth to swing some momentum their way. In the top of the sixth, Alyssa Gutierrez led things off with a single to left-center field. Kelsey Keilman moved Gutierrez up 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt, and Molly Mirabelli drove in Gutierrez two batters later with a single to right-center field.
In the top of the seventh inning, Mandi Hettinger led off with a single before Maggie Gillis laced a single to left-center field to put the potential tying run up to the plate with no outs. A foul pop up, a ground out, and a strikeout, however, ended the Belles' chances of a late-inning comeback.
Molly Mirabelli was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Krystal Harris had a double, and Alyssa Gutierrez was 1-for-2 with a run. Hailey Hisaw suffered the pitching loss after going 3.1 innings with a strike out and no walks. Mandi Hettinger closed out the final 2.2 innings and struck out two while allowing just one hit.
The Belles (1-12) are slated for their first home twinbill of the season on Tuesday, March 26 when they host Manchester starting at 3:00 p.m.