Belding grinds out wins over Panthers

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 9:44 am on Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Belding’s Autumn Thome reaches to bunt the ball during the first game of a doubleheader against Comstock Park Tuesday.

BELDING — The Belding softball team didn’t have an easy time with the Comstock Park Paanthers, and coach Mikayla Linebaugh knew it.

“Good team,” Linebaugh said of the Panthers.

The Redskins were able to squeak out a pair of wins over Comstock Park Tuesday 3-1 and 3-2.

“They (Comstock Park) got some confidence that they can play with us,” Linebaugh said.

The first game was a 1-0 game through five innings, as Belding (12-10, 10-4) got a run on an RBI groundout in the second inning from Caitlin Alkire.

While that was happening, Redskin pitcher Kyleigh Linebaugh and Panther pitcher Kelsey Brown had a pitchers duel going. Linebaugh allowed only two hits through five innings, striking out 10. Brown gave up only three hits in those same five innings, but with only three strikeouts.

Then Belding broke through with two runs in the sixth by Mariah Heintzelman and Morgan Hill.

Belding’s Kyleigh Linebaugh (2) is tagged out by Comstock Park’s Olivia Burdsal during the second game of the teams’ doubleheader Tuesday.

The Panthers finally got on the board with no outs on a walk, a double and an RBI single by Alexis Datema.

But with the tying run in Datema at second base, three straight groundouts to Linebaugh preserved the win.

Linebaugh finished with four hits allowed and the 10 strikeouts.

“I thought Kyleigh threw well,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “I thought she was in some pressure situations and really buckled down and held runners at third base.”

Brown ended up with the loss as she scattered seven hits without a walk and three strikeouts.

Rachel Hunt had two of Belding’s seven hits in that game.

The second game saw the Redskins get out to a 2-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Kyleigh Linebaugh in the first innings and a run-scoring error where Linebaugh was tagged by catcher Olivia Burdsal but dropped the ball after the tag.

The Panthers got those two back in the fourth inning on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Brooke Morgan.

“When you start seeing a pitcher all night , the third, fourth time through the batting order, they start to time it out,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “They (Comstock Park) started putting the bat on the ball. We needed to be more aggressive on the field, not taking for granted that it’s going to be an easy hit.”

Heintzelman hit an RBI triple to score Kyleigh Linebaugh in the fifth inning for the game-winner.

Like the first game, Comstock Park had the tying run on base but Linebaugh struck out three straight batters to strand it.

Linebaugh struck out a total of 10 batters in the second game, but allowed eight hits this time. Three of those went to Calsey Emmorey.

Hill had two of the five hits Brown allowed in the second game.

“I thought our bats were on (Tuesday),” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “We put the bats on the ball and made them (Comstock Park) make a play on it.”

The two teams will play again Thursday in the third game of the three-game series in Comstock Park.

“We can’t look beyond Thursday,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “They (Comstock Park) are going to be hungry.”

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