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Belles Hold Off Lynx, Fall to Battling Bishops

Alyssa Gutierrez fields a ground ball.
CLERMONT, Fla. - The Saint Mary's softball team won a 3-2 contest against Rhodes but came up short in a 2-0 final against Ohio Wesleyan on Tuesday in Florida.
After forcing the Lynx into stranding a pair of runners in the top of the first inning, the Belles took a lead in the bottom half of the opening stanza. Kelsey Keilman drew a lead-off walk, and Paige Madden followed suit with a walk of her own. Sydney Swartz moved the pair up 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt, and Mandi Hettinger used a ground out to the right side of the infield to plate Keilman.
A three-up, three-down inning defensively put the Belles up to bat quickly. Mac Pepper drew a two-out walk, and Alyssa Gutierrez was hit by a pitch to put a pair on base for Saint Mary's. Kelsey Keilman then drove in both runners with a double to right-center field for a 3-0 lead.
JoAnna Keilman and Mac Pepper each flashed some leather defensively over the next two innings. Keilman made a diving snag up the middle and got the out at first with a throw from her knees for the first out of the third inning. Pepper, meanwhile, made a diving stop to her glove side and made the flip to first in time to record the first out of the fourth inning.
The Lynx used a two-out rally in the top of the fifth inning to plate two runs, but the Belles closed the inning before Rhodes could put another runner across. The defense came through in the clutch over the final two innings of the game. The Lynx hit a lead-off double in the top of the sixth inning and moved their runner to third with a sacrifice bunt, but Mandi Hettinger rung up the next two batters with strikeouts to end that threat. Alyssa Gutierrez had great reaction time at the hot corner with a line drive snag in the top of the seventh, and Kelsey Keilman collected a fly ball for the second out. Rhodes tried to put another two-out rally together with a pair of base runners, but Hettinger again shut the door with a strikeout to close out the 3-2 win.
Kelsey Keilman had a double in her lone countable at-bat as the senior drew two walks in her other two plate appearances. Keilman drove in two runs and scored the Belles' other run in the 3-2 final. Sydney Swartz collected a hit, Mandi Hettinger drove in a run, and Mac Pepper and Alyssa Gutierrez each scored once. Hettinger went the distance in the circle as the sophomore struck out five and scattered seven hits over seven innings of work on her way to the win.
In game two, the Belles had trouble stringing together hits and base runners against Ohio Wesleyan while the defense continued to keep Saint Mary's in the game. JoAnna Keilman nearly added to her highlight reel with a diving attempt at a ball that fell for a single in the first inning, but Sydney Swartz put the Battling Bishops' at-bats to bed with a line drive snag in left field with bases loaded.
Ohio Wesleyan plated two runs with two outs in the bottom of the third inning before Paige Madden cut down a runner at the plate to end the frame. JoAnna Keilman collected the Belles' first hit of the game with a single to right field, but the Saint Mary's side was unable to keep the offense going in the inning. The junior made a strong defensive play in the 5-6 hole to end the fourth inning, and Brianna Martinez laced a single for the Belles in the top of the fifth inning. A double play by the Battling Bishops, however, cut things short in the inning.
The defense came up with plays in the fifth and the sixth innings as Ohio Wesleyan put a runner in scoring position in each at-bat. Mandi Hettinger collected a strikeout in the fifth, and Alyssa Gutierrez made back-to-back throws across the field for force outs at first in the sixth as the game moved to the top of the seventh with the Belles still trailing 2-0. Alison Alberts reached first base after being hit by a pitch with two outs, but the comeback was not meant to be as Ohio Wesleyan recorded the final out for the 2-0 final.
JoAnna Keilman had a pair of singles, and Brianna Martinez hit a single for the Belles. Hailey Hisaw shouldered the loss in the circle after going five-plus innings, surrendering two runs and recording two strikeouts.
The Belles (5-3) have a break in play tomorrow and resume competition in Florida on Thursday when they face Beloit and Washington College at 4:00 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively.