BELDING — Belding softball coach Mikayla Linebaugh was happy to get a split of a doubleheader, which wouldn’t normally be the case.
But her Redskins handed the Coopersville Broncos their first O-K Blue Conference loss of the season Tuesday in the second game of the doubleheader 8-7 after losing the first game 8-3.
“It was huge,” Linebaugh said. “Thursday’s going to be a big game for us because we want to give them (Coopersville) their second loss like we have.”
Belding (8-8, 6-2) and Coopersville (14-4-2, 7-1) were locked in a pitcher’s duel in the opener until the fourth inning when the Broncos got a two-run inside-the-park home run from Stacey Willcome. They added another in the fifth on an RBI single by Carley Chase that caused Linebaugh to replace starting pitcher Kyleigh Linebaugh.
Coopersville broke the game open in the sixth with four runs.
The Redskins didn’t get a run until an RBI double in the sixth from Morgan Hill. They added two more in the seventh.
“Our bats were dead,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “We just struggled again.”
Kyleigh Linebaugh took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits with five strikeouts.
Madison Rasch got the win, giving up six hits and four walks while striking out 10.
Mariah Heintzelman, playing her first game after sitting out with an injury, was the only Redskin to have two hits. Tiffany Kline had four for Coopersville, scoring three runs.
A play in the first game may have affected the second game. Bronco first baseman Monica Huesing injured her right ankle going after a foul ball in the seventh inning and had to be carried off the field. She was taken to the hospital for X-rays.
Huesing is the No. 2 pitcher for Coopersville, and that forced Kline to pitch the second game.
After the Broncos scored a run in the top of the first Kline gave up three runs in the second and another in the third to put Belding into the lead.
Coopersville closed the gap to 4-3 on a wild pitch by Hill in the fourth, but the Redskins scored twice in the fifth inning and twice more in the sixth to lead 8-3.
But Hill couldn’t get the third out in the top of the seventh, allowing four runs to score before Kyleigh Linebaugh came in and got the save with a strikeout.
Hill finished with 10 hits allowed, four walks and three strikeouts for the win.
“I thought Morgan threw a great game in the second game,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “I thought our defense stepped it up in the second game until late. That’s what we’re still trying to figure out; what’s the best combination when we’re missing a catcher and a shortstop.”
Heintzelman was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI in the nightcap.
“I thought Mariah played through a lot of pain (Tuesday),” Linebaugh said. “I thought her bat was good.”
Kline and Laura Bush had three hits each for Coopersville in the loss.
The two teams will play again Thursday in Coopersville.