BELPRE - One inning ended up being the difference in visiting Fort Frye's 5-2 softball win over Belpre Tuesday afternoon at Civitan Park.
Five hits combined with two errors that each plated two runs gave the Cadets, now 10-10, a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth after Belpre had scored a run in the second.
In the decisive fourth frame, Fort Frye got a leadoff double from Hali Lemasters on a grounder down the third-base line that hopped over the bag and rolled down the left-field line. A walk followed and one out later, Natalie Smith's single through the infield to left got by the left fielder as two runs came home.
Winning pitcher Jada Baker then doubled in another run, Lexi Skinner's infield single put runners at second and third, and Mikaela Dyar dropped a single into right to load the bases. After a fielder's choice force out at the plate, Courtney Allen's fly ball to left popped out of the outfielder's glove as two more runs scored to complete the five-run inning.
The host Golden Eagles, now 5-15, got on the scoreboard first, though, in the second on Kaity Hager's one-out double into right-center, followed by Ceianna Bennett's RBI single to right.
After Fort Frye's five-run fourth, Belpre got a run back in the sixth on a Fort Frye error, wild pitch and Bri Elkins' RBI double into right-center field.
Then in the last of the seventh, Belpre had two on with only one out and the potential tying run at the plate, but failed to score. Bennett walked with one out, Katelyn Hughes grounded a single up the middle and both base-runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. But two consecutive groundouts ended the game.
Baker hurled a complete-game five-hitter for Fort Frye with seven strikeouts and only one walk. Hager suffered the loss for Belpre, which next plays at Waterford at 5 p.m. today.
"Take away that one inning and it's a 2-0 ball game," said Belpre head coach Stephanie Evans. "We're clicking right at the right time of the year, with the tournament right around the corner next Tuesday. I'm very, very optimistic with this group of girls, and just a little more work each day, one day at a time, and we'll eventually get there.
"You can see them getting better with each game. We still have some errors here and there, and every team's going to have that, especially when you have a lot of youth on your team."
Belpre opens sectional play at home next Tuesday versus Oak Hill at 5 p.m.