Belles Fall in Tight Game to Beloit, Shut Out Washington College

Kelsey Keilman prepares to catch the ball.
CLERMONT, Fla. - The Saint Mary's softball team came up just short in a 3-2 final against Beloit before taking a 1-0 win over Washington College on Thursday evening in Florida.
 
The Belles took the lead first in game one against the Buccaneers. After stranding a pair in the top of the second, Saint Mary's broke through in the top of the third. Alyssa Gutierrez led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a Paige Madden single two batters later. Madden swiped second base to put two runners into scoring position, and Gutierrez scored easily on a deep sacrifice fly to left field by Sydney Swartz.
 
The Belles kept the Bucs off of the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning. After a lead-off double and a walk, Hailey Hisaw retired the next batter with a strikeout. The sophomore pitcher then induced a grounder to Alyssa Gutierrez at third, and the senior easily stepped on the bag ahead of the runner for the force out. A Beloit walk loaded the bases, but Hisaw drew an infield pop up to Mac Pepper at second base to end the threat.
 
A double play by the Saint Mary's defense ended the fourth inning, and the Belles capitalized by plating a run in the top of the fifth. Pepper led off the inning with a bunt single, and Gutierrez moved Pepper into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Kelsey Keilman then laced a triple to left field to easily score Pepper for the 2-0 lead.
 
The Bucs drew even with the Belles in the bottom half of the fifth inning, scoring two runs on three hits - including back-to-back doubles - to tie the game at 2-2. Saint Mary's tried to get a two-out rally going in the top of the sixth. JoAnna Keilman laced a one-out single down the left field line. Winnie Tomsheck kept the inning going with a two-out single to center field, but the Belles were unable to regain a late lead.
 
Beloit loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with a trio of singles, and an infield single gave the Bucs a 3-2 lead with just one out gone. Mandi Hettinger, who replaced Hisaw in the pitching circle in the fifth, got a big strikeout. The next batter then grounded out as the Belles limited the damage and kept well within striking distance going into their final at-bats. Saint Mary's had a pair of singles in the inning - one by JoAnna Keilman and one by Sydney Swartz - but the comeback fell short in the 3-2 final.
 
JoAnna Keilman was 2-for-3 at the dish in the game while Kelsey Keilman went 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Sydney Swartz tallied a hit and drove in a run, and Mac Pepper and Alyssa Gutierrez each had a hit and scored a run. Mandi Hettinger suffered the loss in relief after going the final 1.1 in the circle and allowing one run with one strikeout. Hailey Hisaw had a no decision over the first 4.2 innings while being tallied with two runs and striking out three.
 
In game two, the Belles had plenty of opportunities to push a runner across home as Saint Mary's had left 11 runners on base through the first four innings of play. The Belles finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alison Alberts led off the inning by drawing a walk. Mac Pepper came in to pinch run, and Liv Lauck used a sacrifice bunt to advance Pepper to second base. With two outs gone, Alyssa Gutierrez dropped a single just inside the right field line as Pepper scored easily on the play as the freshman was running on contact.
 
Several strong defensive plays saw the Belles keep the Shorewomen at bay. The Belles got out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the first after Mandi Hettinger dialed in a strikeout before drawing a come-back easy grounder to end the threat. Alyssa Gutierrez snagged a line drive in the top of the second to end the inning. Alison Alberts added a shin-high line drive catch in the third inning to rob a hit. Kelsey Keilman covered a lot of ground en route to a diving catch in shallow right-center field in the fifth inning before Natalie Quinlan ended the frame by cutting down a runner at second trying to steal. In the sixth inning, JoAnna Keilman drew some appreciation from the crowd with a diving catch up the middle to rob a certain hit for the Shorewomen.
 
Kelsey Keilman went 1-for-1 with two walks and a stolen base. Mandi Hettinger and Alison Alberts also drew two walks apiece, and Hettinger tallied a hit. Alyssa Gutierrez drove in the lone run of the game and drew a walk in another plate appearance. Hettinger went the distance in the circle. The sophomore collected six strikeouts and walked one while only surrendering two hits - a pair of singles - for her third shutout victory of the week.
 
The Belles (6-4) are scheduled to wrap up their week in Florida on Friday with a 1:45 p.m. game against Westfield State and a 4:15 p.m. game against Swarthmore.