BELPRE - Both Belpre's baseball and softball teams are hoping 9 vs. 8 proves to be a lucky matchup in their sectional-tournament openers today.
Both Golden Eagle squads, seeded ninth, will face No. 8 seeds on the road at 5 p.m. - baseball at River Valley (5-15) and softball at Trimble (5-14).
Head coach Terry Mullen's 4-19 diamondmen ''are a young group that just haven't played in a lot of baseball games.''
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Belpre's Joey Byers slides into second safely as the ball skips past Williamstown's Bret MacIver. Belpre begins sectional tournament play with a game at River Valley today.
So with a team without much experience playing baseball, ''we wonder in any situation, are they going to make the right choice in the field?'' asked Mullen rhetorically. ''That's been a dilemma all year.
''And if our pitchers let a couple guys on base, then we don't seem to make the great play, just the routine one, behind them, and the next thing you know, it just snowballs, with us giving up too many big innings this year.
''We just don't play a complete baseball game, and especially haven't gotten the two-out base hit all year long.
''For us to win in the tournament, we've got to basically play a perfect baseball game. You can get by with one or two errors. but we've probably averaged six plus - and I don't care on what level you're playing, you shouldn't win a baseball game making six errors.''
Several bright spots, though, for Mullen this spring have been freshman Tavian Miller, leading the team in hitting with a batting average close to .300; junior pitcher Mike Simoniette with 2.70 ERA; and Joey Byers, who's back on the team as a senior, ''and I appreciate that,'' said Mullen.
Meanwhile on the softball side, "the philosophy this year has been work to get better every game, since we were a very young team with only two senior starters (outfielders Mollie Miller and Arielle Gramkow) and two junior starters,'' said Belpre assistant coach Stephanie Evans, acting as head coach in Ken Cox's absence due to a death in the family.
''And we've seen some improvement,'' added Evans, ''although we've had some setbacks with injuries. But as a whole, we have improved as the year has gone on '' And with the majority of the roster being underclassmen, Evans agreed that hopefully bodes well for the program over the next two to three seasons.
Although sporting only a 4-18 record, ''several games were decided by just a couple runs,'' said Evans. ''We hung right in there in some, then had a bad inning and it ended up costing us. But there were a few too we lost by only one, two or three runs.''
Evans said the team is looking ''to start fresh with the tournament and go in with a positive outlook as everyone starts even in the postseason.'' This season, the Golden Eagle girls were 0-2 against Trimble, but both games were close. ''So it could be anybody's game,'' said Evans. ''We'll play our hardest and see what happens.''