MUSCODA — Belmont was just six outs away from regional yet another regional final. But Division 4 newcomer Riverdale had other ideas.
The Chieftains, who moved down a division for this year’s postseason, scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally for a 6–3 victory that ended the Braves season in last Tuesday’s D4 regional semifinal at Riverdale High School.
Riverdale (13–12) scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI double to left field by Thomas.
The Chieftains made it 2–0 in the third when Amanda Meister doubled home Ashley Meckley. But Belmont battled back one run at a time.
Belmont senior first baseman Mallory Ray smashed an RBI single to deep centerfielder to score senior third baseman Emma Lee.
Ray’s blast was inches from being a go-ahead three-run home run, but it hit the plastic cover on the top of the fence and bounced back into play.
The Braves tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning. Junior catcher Katelyn Schobert singled past third base, moved to second on Maddie Rand’s sacrifice bunt and later scored when Audrey Wedig reached on an error.
Belmont took a 3–2 lead an inning later when Rand’s infield single scored Ray. But the wheels fell in the bottom of the sixth.
Riverdale loaded the bases with one out on back-to-back singles and a walk, but it looked like Belmont freshman pitcher Brooke Nolan was going to escape.
Nolan got Klebesadel to fly out to second base, then induced a potential inning-ending ground ball, but a Belmont error allowed Lisney and Dana Walstad to score.
Meckley followed with an RBI single to left field, then Miester smacked a line drive RBI single to center to make it 6–3.
“It really was a game of missed opportunities,” said Belmont head coach Jeff Hodgson. “Mallory just missed a three-run homer by less than a foot. That would have been a real tide-turner, but as it was we only got one run that inning. We also had some opportunities on defense to get out of innings without them scoring, but we didn’t make the plays
“But I was impressed with the way we battled back. We ended up leaving nine runners on base. We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”
Brook Knebel drew a one out walk in the seventh, but Belmont never really threatened as Meister induced a ground out then struck out Ray to end the game and Belmont’s season.
Meister earned the win striking out five while allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits and five walks in seven innings.
Nolan (10–10) suffered the loss allowing six runs, but just one earned, on nine hits and four walks.
Schobert finished 3-for-4 with a run scored to lead the Braves’ offense. Ray went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Riverdale improved to 13–11 and advanced to the regional final before losing to Highland 2–0. Meanwhile Belmont finished the season with an uncharacteristic losing record of 10–15.
“I really believe the confidence we lacked due to not winning the number of games we usually win really hurt us,” said Hodgson. “We were talented enough to make a run at the end of the season, but it didn’t happen. This was the kind of game we usually win, but this year it went against us. We will keep working and hopefully will be better in the future.”
Hodgson will lose seniors Ray, Lee, Wedig and Jessica Stoney. “We will miss all of our seniors said Hodgson. “They were a part of three conference titles and three regional title teams. And they held us together this year through a tough season. I appreciate all four and the contributions they made to Belmont softball.”
WIAA Division 4 regional semifinals
Riverdale 6, Belmont 3
(from Tuesday, May 27 at Muscoda)
Belmont 000 111 0 — 3 6 3
Riverdale 101 004 x — 6 9 1
Leading hitters — B: Katelyn Schobert 2x4, Mallory Ray 2x4; Amanda Miester 2x4, Linsey 2x3. 2B — B: Brook Knebel; R: Meister, Thomas. W — Amanda Meister (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 SO, 5 BB). L — Paige Nolan (10–10, 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 1 ER, 0 SO, 4 BB).