The general mood was somber on Belding’s side of Wolbers Field Tuesday.
The Redskins had just lost the Division 2 quarterfinals to Wayland Union 11-1.
But there was a hint of optimism about next season.
“Early in the season we were young and we came a long way, especially in the outfield,” senior pitcher Kyleigh Linebaugh said. “I was very impressed with the way the young kids stepped up this year.”
The game was the last for not only Linebaugh, but for senior center fielder Mindy Reminga.
“It was tough,” Reminga said. “Especially going to state (the state semifinals) two years ago it was hard (to lose).”
Jim Hunt, who is the father of sophomore shortstop Rachel Hunt, liked the way Belding played this season.
“They played real well,” he said. “They have to improve. They have to work this winter and they should be fine. We’ll be back again.”
The Redskins found their low point in the season when they were mercied three times in the Eaton Rapids Invititional, including to Wayland in the first game of the tournament. But Rachel Hunt was injured in that game, as was catcher Mariah Heintzelman.
Soon after they returned, the Redskins went on a 13-game win streak and ended up challenging for the O-K Blue Conference title.
But even Jim Hunt said he didn’t envision going to the state quarterfinals after Eaton Rapids.
“In the beginning of the year I didn’t think we would be here (in the state quarterfinals) today,” he said. “They did an outstanding job this year.”
Even coach Mikayla Linebaugh wasn’t expecting much early on, especially with six sophomores on the team.
“We had six sophomores, we lost three seniors that didn’t come back this year,” she said. “If you would have told me in December we would be here I probably would have laughed at you.”
But Linebaugh said the bar has been set for the softball team.
“Their expectation is to get back here (to the state quarterfinals),” she said. “We have to get the get the young kids on board that this is what Belding softball is about.”