BELDING — Belding’s softball team will face a somewhat familiar foe today at Hope College.
The Redskins will take on Wayland Union in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 softball tournament at 4 p.m.
The Wildcats, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a 13-2 mercy of Eaton Rapids on Saturday in DeWitt, are ranked fifth in the state in Division 2 in the final Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association poll, released May 29.
Union has played Belding before. It was at the Eaton Rapids tournament on April 21, when Union mercied Belding 14-0.
“We need to keep in mind we did not have our catcher, we didn’t have our shortstop and Kyleigh (Linebaugh) didn’t throw a pitch in that game,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said.
The missing players were shortstop Rachel Hunt and catcher Mariah Heintzel-man, both of whom were injured.
Mikayla Linebaugh knows the Wildcats are good.
“They have a lot of slappers, a lot of lefties,” she said of Union. “It’s going to be a game. Is it going to be doable? Yes.”
One advantage the Redskins will have over the Wildcats will be Kyleigh Linebaugh, since the No. 1 pitcher on Belding’s team wasn’t pitching against Union April 21.
But that goes both ways somewhat, noted Mikayla Linebaugh.
“I really don’t know that in-depth about the program,” she said. “They had already played Eaton Rapids. I have no idea if we’ll see the same girl (pitching) or who will see.”
One thing the Redskins will have to do is have solid slap-hit defense, Linebaugh said.
“We have different defenses we play with that,” she said. “We have to play smart defense because a hitter can read a defense.”
Offensively, Linebaugh doesn’t plan to change a thing.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” she said. “If we can get on the board first that will be a good ice-breaker.”
Linebaugh thinks there’s a couple of facets of the game of softball that will determine who wins today.
“I think it’s going to come down to who makes less errors and who has the timely hits that come through,” she said.
Linebaugh has been amazed at how far her team has come since that fateful tournament where the Redskins had only six hits total in three games and didn’t score a run while being mercied three times.
“The only bump we had all year was when we were injured,” she said. “Things happen for the reason. It didn’t cost us a conference, it didn’t cost us a district, it didn’t cost us a regional. Hopefully it made us stronger in a good way and got us ready for state.”
The winner of the game will go to Bailey Park in Battle Creek on Friday to face the winner of the Novi quarterfinal between second-ranked Livonia Ladywood and honorable mention St. Clair.