GAME OF THE WEEK (March 28–April 3)
PREP SOFTBALL: Belmont 4, Dodgeville 2
BELMONT — The 2019 Belmont softball team is no joke.
Coach Jeff Hodgson’s Braves entered an unofficial claim to be this year’s champion of Southwest Wisconsin Conference by defeating preseason favorite Dodgeville Monday after noon on April Fools Day.
It was Belmont’s fourth straight non-conference victory over SWC opponents.
Belmont defeated River Valley in a preseason scrimmage Tuesday, March 19, then opened the season with a convincing 10–3 victory at Platteville last Tuesday.
The Braves then blanked visiting Lancaster 8–0 on Thursday before holding on for a 4–2 victory over the visiting Dodgers Monday afternoon.
“We had a few errors in the first game against Platteville, but we hadn’t even been outside on the dirt yet at that point, so that’s to be expected,” said Belmont head coach Jeff Hodgson. “But we have hit .365 in our first three games, which is nice. But when you are inside for two weeks to start the season, that’s what you work on the most, so we hope to be hitting well early on and we are.”
Senior ace Sadie Willborn, the reigning Six Rivers West Co-Player of the Year, picked up her third victory of the season Monday against Dodgeville, allowing her first two earned runs of the season on seven hits in the complete game victory. She struck out six and walked three.
The Dodgers (1–4) took an early 1–0 lead on an RBI single by pitcher Lindsey Murphy, but Belmont answered with three runs in the bottom of the first and never trailed again.
Willborn drew a one-out walk and Nicole Knebel and Mackenzie Reuter hit back-to-back singles to load the bases.
Two runs scored on a throwing error on a Mackenzie Shellnut dribbler up the first base line. Shellnut was tagged out on the play, but the throw to the plate to catch pinch runner Ashley Freeman was off the mark allowing her to score safely and Knebel came in to score as well as the ball bounced around foul territory.
Callie Douglas added a clutch, two-out RBI single to put the Braves up 3-1.
Dodgeville got a run back in the third when Grace Borne doubled and scored on a ground out.
Bridgette Miesen doubled home Shellnut in the bottom of the sixth to give Belmont an insurance run.
In Tuesday’s opener at Platteville, Willborn went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and drove in two runs to aid her own cause.
Reuter drove in three runs with a three-hit day and Knebel and catcher Abby Althaus also went 3-for-4.
Willborn struck out 10, walked two and allowed four hits in seven innings.
Thursday afternoon she struck out 13 Arrows in a one-hit shutout. Willborn also had two RBI in the win.
Althaus drove in a pair of runs for the Braves.
“Sadie was dominant in our first two games,” said Hodgson. “She pitched all 14 innings and didn’t give up an earned run. When strikes out 22 and gives up zero earned runs over two games, we have a really good chance to win.”
Belmont (3–0) were scheduled to travel to Iowa–Grant Tuesday, and will now open Six Rivers West play Monday at home against Benton/Shullsburg.
Belmont 4, Dodgeville 2
(from Monday, April 1 @ Belmont)
Dodgeville...... 101 000 0 — 2 7 1
Belmont.......... 300 001 x — 4 7 2
Leading hitters — D: Grace Borne 3x4; B: Callie Douglas 2x3. 2B — D: Borne; B: Bridgette Miesen.
W — Sadie Willborn (3–0, 7IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 6K, 3BB). L — Lindsey Murphy (6IP, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 7K, 3BB).
Belmont 8, Lancaster 0
(from Thursday, March 28 @ Belmont)
Lancaster........ 000 000 0 — 0 1 2
Belmont.......... 003 320 x — 8 9 0
Leading hitters —B: Nicole Knebel 2x4. 2B — B: Abby Althaus, McKenzie Reuter, Sadie Willborn.
W — Sadie Willborn (2–0, 7IP, 1H, 0R, 13K, 0BB). L — Brooklyn Connelly (6IP, 9H, 8R, 5ER, 7K, 1BB).
Belmont 10, Platteville 3
(from Tuesday, March 26 @ Platteville)
Belmont.......... 212 002 3 — 10 15 4
Platteville....... 100 000 2 — 3 4 2
Leading hitters — B: Abby Althaus 3x4, Sadie Willborn 4x5, Nicole Knebel 2x5, Mackenzie Reuter 3x4; P: Kaycie Wagner 2x3, Renee Vankirk 2x3. 2B — Althaus 2, Willborn 2, Reuter..
W — Sadie Willborn (1–0, 7IP, 4H, 3R, 0ER, 10K, 2BB). L — Kaycie Wagner (0–2, 6IP, 11H, 7R, 6ER, 5K, 4BB).