ADA — Belding’s softball team had one close game and one blowout on their way to a Division 2 district softball title.
The Redskins knocked off Comstock Park and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern to win their fourth straight district title.
“I’m really proud of the team, and I’m just happy for Kyleigh (Linebaugh) to go out with it in her senior year.”
Comstock Park, coached by Greenville class of 1965 graduate Jim Burns, gave the Redskins everything they could handle in the first game — just like the two games that were played in Belding in May. Neither team could get a runner to third base until the fifth inning for both teams, but even then they stranded the runners there.
In fact, Belding was no-hit through five innings.
“She (losing pitcher Kelsey Brown) was just making us think,” Linebaugh said. “She throws a knuckleball that you have to be disciplined in the (batter’s) box.”
Then the Redskins broke through in the bottom of the sixth inning with a single by Kyleigh Linebaugh, who advanced on a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt by Mariah Heintzelman. Morgan Hill then nearly cleared the center field fence with an
RBI double and Mindy Reminga plated Hill with a single. Those were the only three hits for Belding.
“It was just timely hitting in the right spots with baserunners,” Mikayla Linebaugh said.
Kyleigh Linebaugh got the complete-game win, allowing just two hits — both to Brown — without a walk and striking out 11.
Brown struck out five with two walks in the game.
“Kelsey threw well,” Mikayla Linebaugh said. “I was very impressed. Kept us thinking on the change-up and threw enough balls to keep you honest. They (Comstock Park) played a great game.”
Forest Hills Eastern then took on the Redskins after coming back from an early 6-0 deficit to beat Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 13-6. The host Hawks had scored 28 runs in winning their pre-district game against Grand Rapids Creston Tuesday.
However Belding was no match for Eastern, losing 17-1 in three innings to the Redskins. Belding scored four times in the first, three more in the second and 10 in the third for the mercy.
“When you go to a different pitcher it could throw your bats off and I thought we attacked the ball very well,” Linebaugh said.
Meanwhile Kyleigh Linebaugh threw a three-inning no-hitter, allowing a run in the first on a walk, a fielder’s choice, an error and a wild pitch. She struck out five.
“You don’t see that very often in the districts,” Mikayla Linebaugh said of the mercy.
The Redskins got three hits and three RBIs from Rachel Hunt. Six other Redskins had a hit each. Every batter in the starting lineup scored at least one run.
Belding will go to Hope College for the third year in a row for regionals. They will play Zeeland East, who beat Wyoming Park 7-5 in the Holland Christian district final.
“It kind of feels like our home field,” Linebaugh said. “In fact, our new field is designed after Hope because we fell in love with it. It will be fun. We’re looking forward to it.”