BELDING — Belding softball coach Mikayla Linebaugh noted how her Redskins should have had a few games under their belts by now.
“The toughest thing is it was our first time out,” she said. “We should have had seven or eight ball games in by now.”
But the Redskins opened the season with a doubleheader split with Coopersville, losing the first game 7-5, but winning the second 5-3.
“We got two new pitchers and that was new to us and new to our system,” Linebaugh said. “I thought they did a nice job. It was a little bit first-game jitters and what was expected of you.”
The first game got away from Belding early. The Broncos, who also were playing their first games of the season, scored twice in the first inning and four times in the third to lead 6-2 after three innings.
“Just a bit of pitch selection, what I was calling, what they (Coopersville) were teeing off on, where we were hitting spots,” Linebaugh said. “And they have good bats. It was just one of those things where when the wheels fall off you try to catch it before it goes.”
Belding tried to come back, getting a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth on a Rachel Hunt double for two RBIs before succumbing.
Julia Ruppert went only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four for the loss.
Coopersville pitcher Megan Snyder got the win, going six innings and allowing five runs on five hits and five walks, striking out three. Cayley Duddles came in for the save with a 1-2-3 seventh.
Hannah Tannis had three hits for the Broncos.
In game two, Coopersville jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Duddles in the first inning. Belding got one back in the third on an RBI groundout by Hunt, only to give it back in the fourth on an RBI double by Alisha Vandermeer.
The Redskins scored once in the fourth and once in the fifth to tie the game, then got two runs in the sixth for the lead.
“Getting timely hitting,” Linebaugh said. “Getting kids on is huge. We want to be aggressive in the (batter’s) box, but we want to be smart. We had a lot of full counts that we pulled some walks out to get some baserunners.”
Coopersville loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. A forceout at the plate and a line-out held the damage to one run.
Paige Ledin pitched all seven innings for the win, scattering nine hits amongst three walks and two strikeouts.
Ledin had two hits, including the go-ahead double in the sixth.
Duddles took the loss, going 5 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on three hits. She walked two and struck out a batter.
The two teams will play a single game in Coopersville today.