Belles Stopped Short in Season-Opening Twinbill

Kelsey Keilman at bat.
BRIGHTON, Mich. - The Saint Mary's softball team fell in a 5-0 final against Concordia Ann Arbor and was narrowly edged out in a 2-1 contest against Cleary at the Legacy Center on Friday morning.
 
The Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning with three runs for the quick lead. Mac Pepper reached first base on an error in the bottom half of the inning, but the freshman was unable to advance any farther as back-to-back outs ended the inning.
 
Kelsey Keilman tallied a two-out single in the top of the third only to see a groundout on the next play end the threat. Alison Alberts led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single to try to get the offense going late in the game for Saint Mary's. The senior, however, could not get into scoring position as three consecutive outs stopped the rally effort short.
 
Concordia Ann Arbor added two more runs in the top of the sixth inning to extend their lead to 5-0. The Belles, conversely, saw the offense retired in order in the bottom of the sixth and the seventh to end the game by that same 5-0 margin.
 
Kelsey Keilman and Alison Alberts each registered a single for Saint Mary's. Mandi Hettinger shouldered the loss in the circle after going the distance and striking out three.
 
The Belles got themselves out of a jam in the bottom of the second inning against Cleary in the second game of the morning. The Cougars led off the inning with a double, but pop up outs to JoAnna Keilman at shortstop and Mac Pepper at second gave the defense two outs. A double nearly gave Cleary the lead, but the Belles stopped the run from scoring. Alyssa Gutierrez then collected a grounder and made the throw across to first for the force out to end the inning.
 
Saint Mary's got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Kelsey Keilman laced a one-out double, and Pepper reached on an error to put runners on first and second with no outs. The pair successfully executed a double steal to move into scoring position. Two batters later, Mandi Hettinger drove in Keilman from third with a ground out for the 1-0 lead.
 
The Cougars, however, responded with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half of the inning to gain the 2-1 advantage. The Belles stirred the pot in the top of the sixth after Pepper drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a ground out, and Mandi Hettinger tallied a single to put runners at the corners. A pop up cut the inning short for Saint Mary's as the Belles were unable to draw even. Saint Mary's retired the Cleary side in order in the bottom of the inning, but the Cougars returned the favor in the top of the seventh to close out the 2-1 final.
 
Kelsey Keilman went 1-for-3 with a double, a stolen base, and a run scored to help lead the offense. Brianna Martinez collected her first career hit, and Mandi Hettinger added a 1-for-3 effort with an RBI. Hailey Hisaw went six complete innings with just one walk and no earned runs allowed.
 
The Belles (0-2) return to competition over the College's spring break when the team travels to Florida for a ten-game slate of competition. The first two games of that trip take place on Sunday, March 8 against Roger Williams and Concordia Chicago.