BELMONT — Two games into her varsity coaching career, Platteville’s Becca Lowe already has a comeback victory for the ages.
Lowe’s Hillmen scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning Thursday afternoon to rally from a six-run deficit to steal an 11–10 non-conference victory from defending Six Rivers West champion Belmont.
Senior Sierra Brecke went 3-for-4 with a triple, a home run and three RBIs, including an RBI single in Platteville’s seven-run seventh. She also picked up the win in relief of freshman Kaycie Wagner.
Junior KD Hoyer struck out two Braves in a scoreless bottom of the seventh to earn the save.
“I thought Thursday’s game against Belmont was a great game for the girls to see how important it is to fight through all seven innings,” said Lowe. “I thought they did a great job of that. I thought KD Hoyer’s pitching was clutch at the bottom of the seventh inning and all nine of our girls had some great hits.”
After Brecke allowed four Belmont runs in the bottom of the sixth, Platteville battled back in their final at-bat.
Senior Mackenzie Chitwood and freshman Amber Lancaster had back-to-back hits to ignite the game-winning rally against Belmont junior Paige Nolan, the 2015 Six Rivers West Co-Player of the Year.
After a pop out to first base, senior Abby Wein singled to the left side to make it 10–5. Brecke singled to load the bases, then Hoyer reached on an error to drive in another run and continue the rally. Wagner followed with a single to center to drive in Wein and Brecke to make it 10–8. Then, senior shortstop Lexi Budden ripped a two-run single to left field to tie the game at 10–10.
Senior Erin Bowden delivered the eventual game-winner with an RBI single to center to plate Budden with the go-ahead run. Chitwood followed with a single and the rally could have kept going, but Platteville made the third out of the inning on the bases.
Coach Jeff Hodgson’s Braves (2–2) dominated the game for six innings and looked like they were on their way to a third win in four games this season.
Junior third baseman Maddie Rand tied the game at 1–1 with an RBI triple in the bottom of the first and later scored on freshman Nikki Knebel’s RBI single.
Platteville regained a 3–2 lead in the top of the third on a solo homer by senior Claire Tashner and an RBI triple by Brecke.
Belmont tied the game on junior Caitlyn Gilbertson’s RBI single in the bottom of the third, then retook the lead on an RBI ground out by junior pitcher Paige Nolan. The Braves took advantage of a pair of Platteville errors to add two runs in the fifth.
Brecke hit a solo homer in the sixth to trim Belmont’s lead to 6–4, but the Braves took a commanding lead with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Knebel drilled a two-run double to center to make it 8–4. Sophomore Briana Ernst doubled to plate Knebel, and Trinity Rucker’s RBI single later in the inning drove in Ernst.
Tashner (2-for-4), Wein (2-for-4), Hoyer (2-for-3), Wagner (2-for-4), Bowden (2-for-4) and Chitwood (2-for-4) each had two hits for the Hillmen.
Brook Knebel (2-for-4), Rand (2-for-3), Nikki Knebel (2-for-4) and Ernst (2-for-4) each had two hits for the Braves. Rand had a touble and a triple, and Nikki Knebel drove in three runs.
“We are definitely not where we should be,” said Hodgson after Thursday’s loss. “We have surrendered two seventh-inning leads at home this year and that doesn’t happen to us very often. We are going to keep working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Belmont suffered a 7–4 nine-inning loss to Cuba City on March 29 after not being able to hold a 4–3 seventh inning lead.
“The offensive side of our game is going really well right now and we are happy with that,” added Hodgson. “But we aren’t too happy about much else right now.”
Belmont bounced back Monday afternoon as junior outfielder Lydia Leahy knocked in five runs and scored two others to lead the visiting Braves over Shullsburg/Benton, 12–1, in five innings in their Six Rivers West softball opener at Badger Park on Monday, April 11.
Leahy put the Braves (3–2 overall, 1–0 SRW) ahead to stay with her two-run single in the top of the first inning, and then gave her team plenty of cushion when she cracked a base-clearing, three-run double and scored a run to highlight a six-run outburst in the second inning.
At the plate, Leahy finished 3-for-4 to lead Belmont’s 14-hit attack. Nolan went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs, and Briana Ernst went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run. Brook Knebel was 2-for-4 with two runs, while Nikki Knebel added a double for the Braves.
Belmont had a non-conference game against Dodgeville on Tuesday, April 5, postponed due to the weather. It has been rescheduled for Friday, April 15, at 5 p.m.
The Braves are also scheduled to host Argyle on Thursday, April 14, and play at Potosi on Monday, April 18, and at Iowa-Grant on Tuesday, April 19. All three games are set to start at 5 p.m.
Platteville 11, Belmont 10
(from Thursday, April 7 @ Belmont)
Platteville 102 001 7 — 11 17 4
Belmont 201 124 0 — 10 12 4
Leading hitters — P: Claire Tashner 2x4, Abby Wein 2x4, Sierra Brecke 3x4, KD Hoyer 2x3, Kaycie Wagner 2x4, Erin Bowden 2x4, Mackenzie Chitwood 2x4; B: Brook Knebel 2x4, Maddie Rand 2x3, Nikki Knebel 2x4, Brianna Ernst 2x4. 2B — P: Amber Lancaster, Lexi Budden, Wagner, Chitwood, Wein; B: B. Knebel, Rand, Ernst, N. Knebel. 3B — P: Brecke; B: Rand. HR — P: Tashner, Brecke.
W — Sierra Brecke (1–0, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, ER, 2 SO, 2 BB). L — Paige Nolan (2–1, 6.1 IP, 13 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 2 SO, 1 BB. W — KD Hoyer (1, 1 IP, 0 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB).
Belmont 12, Shullsburg/Benton 1
(from Monday, April 11 @ Shullsburg)
Belmont 260 40 — 12 14 2
Shulls/Benton 100 00 — 1 2 3
Leading hitters —B: Brook Knebel 2x4, Paige Nolan 3x4, Lydia Leahy 3x4, Briana Ernst 3x4. 2B — B: Nikki Knebel, Ernst, Leahy. 3B — S/B: Goffinet. HR — B: B. Knebel.
W — Paige Nolan (3–1, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB). L — Hattie Rennert (4.1 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 1 ER, 5 SO, 5 BB).