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Belles Fall Twice on Final Day in Florida

The team poses for a photo in two rows.
LEESBURG, Fla. - The Saint Mary's softball team came up just short in a 6-3 setback against Dubuque and a near come-from-behind 7-6 final against Swarthmore on Friday afternoon.
The Belles threatened to get on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning against Dubuque with a pair of singles, but Saint Mary's was unable to capitalize on the chance. The Spartans, however, plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Dubuque added an unearned run in the bottom of the third for a 4-0 advantage.
Liv Lauck led off the top of the fourth inning with a double to center field. Two outs later, JoAnna Keilman nearly lifted one over the fence, but the Dubuque center fielder was able to track down the catch to end the chance. In the bottom half of the inning, solid defense by Saint Mary's kept Dubuque from adding to their lead. Natalie Quinlan caught a runner trying to steal third base on a walk to give the Belles two outs, and Brianna Martinez pulled in a fly ball in right field to end the inning.
The Spartans plated two runs in the bottom of the fifth with no outs gone, but the Saint Mary's defense buckled down and used a fly out, a force out at home, and a line drive snag by Alyssa Gutierrez at third to end the inning.
The Belles broke through in the top of the sixth inning. Kelsey Keilman had a lead-off bunt single, and Liv Lauck added a ground rule double to put two runners into scoring position. Sydney Swartz drove in Keilman easily with a single through the left side of the infield. Lauck then came across home plate on a single to left field by Mandi Hettinger. JoAnna Keilman had her second solidly driven ball of the game come up empty-handed with a catch at the fence by the Spartans' left fielder, and Alison Alberts was robbed of a sure single on an impressive diving catch up the middle by the Dubuque shortstop to end the inning. Saint Mary's retired the side in the bottom half of the inning, but the Belles were unable to get the offense going in the top of the seventh in the 6-3 final.
Liv Lauck went 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles and a run. Sydney Swartz added a 2-for-3 effort with an RBI and a run. Kelsey Keilman had a hit and scored once, and Mandi Hettinger added a hit with an RBI. Brianna Martinez posted a hit of her own for the Belles. Hailey Hisaw suffered the pitching loss after going four-plus innings with three strikeouts and three earned runs. Mandi Hettinger closed out the final two-plus innings and surrendered a run.
Against Swarthmore, the Garnet capitalized on some miscues in the top of the first to take a quick 1-0 lead. JoAnna Keilman put a stop to the inning with a diving play to her back-hand side and made a throw across the field in time for the third out of the frame. Swarthmore, however, pushed three more runs across in the top of the third with a string of singles.
The Belles cut into the deficit in the bottom of the third inning. Winnie Tomsheck laced a lead-off single just inside the right field line and beyond the reach of a diving outfielder. Mac Pepper reached on an error as Tomsheck moved up to second base on the play, and Alyssa Gutierrez dropped a single into right-center field to load the bases. Kelsey Keilman drove in Tomsheck on an RBI ground out to the right side of the infield to make it a 4-1 game, but back-to-back outs saw the Belles strand a pair in scoring position to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Garnet put another run on the scoreboard as Kelsey Keilman's effort of stealing away a home run came up just inches short. Swarthmore pushed two more across in the top of the sixth to gain a 7-1 lead.
Saint Mary's was retired in order in the sixth, but the Belles were far from finished in the contest. Natalie Quinlan started off the seventh inning with an infield single, and Paige Madden came in to pinch run. Another error on a ball hit by Pepper put two on base for the Belles, and Gutierrez drew a walk to load the bases. Kelsey Keilman punched a single up the middle to push both Madden and Pepper across home. Liv Lauck then laced a double to left-center field to drive in Gutierrez and Keilman easily. Sydney Swartz followed suit with a double of her own over the left fielder's head, and Lauck scored as the Belles had the tying run at second base. The Garnet made a timely pitching change, however, as Swarthmore retired the next three batters in-a-row to take the 7-6 final.
Alyssa Gutierrez was 2-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. Kelsey Keilman added a 2-for-4 effort with a run and three RBI. Liv Lauck collected a pair of RBI with a double, and Sydney Swartz tallied a double and an RBI. Mandi Hettinger went the distance in the circle and had three strikeouts with just one walk in the setback.