Belpre belts Jeeps for sectional crown
BELPRE — A 11-run second inning put the softball game early in Belpre’s favor and the host Golden Eagles went on to post a 13-3 win in five innings over South Webster and claim an Ohio Division IV sectional-tournament championship Thursday afternoon at Civitan Park.
Now Belpre — sporting a 19-9 record, tying a school single-season win total — will face Bainbridge Paint Valley in the district semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Minford High School.
Paint Valley topped Manchester 7-2, also on Thursday, to gain the district semi berth versus Belpre.
Not only the lusty hitting that produced 14 hits including a home run and seven doubles in just 4 1/3 innings, but also a 11-strikeout, one-walk pitching performance by Katie Osburn propelled Belpre to the decisive decision over the visiting Jeeps, which fell to 2-15.
After a first-inning sacrifice fly by Madison Harman gave the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead, Belpre sent 15 batters to the plate en route to 11 tallies and a 12-0 advantage on the scoreboard in its explosive second at-bat.
Hannah McDaniel doubled to kick off the Belpre second, followed by Alexandria Williams reaching base on an infield single. Then an unsuccessful fielder’s choice play at the plate let in a run and the ball got by the catcher to allow another run to score before Lauryn Simmons socked a two-run homer over the center-field fence for a 5-0 lead.
Her homer tied the school record for most home runs in a season with seven, equaling the seven round-trippers by Taylor Mason in 2011.
After Simmons’ shot came a single by Osburn and a one-hop double off the center-field fence by Harman preceding Bri Elkins’ infield-single RBI and a two-run single by McDaniel to balloon the score to 8-0.
Williams’ double to right-center was followed by a fielding error to plate a run and an RBI single to left by Kaitlin Richads that was errored brought home yet another tally, upping the margin to 11-0.
And Simmons capped off the Belpre second with an RBI double for a tidy 11-run frame and an overall 12-0 lead.
Still, South Webster was not done just yet. In the third, Mackenzie Keller singled in a run and an error enabled another base-runner to cross home, followed in the fourth by a solo shot slugged over the left-field fence by Brianna Smith to cut the wide gap down some, to 12-3.
Nevertheless, the next inning saw Belpre close out the game as Simmons led off by bashing a double to left and one out later, Harman banged a double into center field for the game-winning hit.
“We picked up Wiliamstown last night and that was a great game to prepare us for today,” said Belpre head coach Stephanie Evans. “So the girls came out and they were aggressive, everyone contributed and it was a nice overall team win.”
Evans knows, though, that district play will be “tougher,” starting against opponent Paint Valley on Tuesday. “Hopefully, we’ll advance past that first round this year — that’s our goal, but we’re going one game at a time. In the postseason, I think our strength of schedule that we had for our non-league games this year will play off and has prepared us because we’ve played a lot of tough opponents this year.”