MIDDLETOWN — A plucky effort couldn’t keep Fenwick High School’s softball team alive in the Division II postseason Thursday.
The Falcons rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie their sectional game against visiting Bellbrook, but the Golden Eagles tallied five runs in their last three at-bats to record a 9-5 victory.
“We fought back hard,” said Fenwick junior shortstop Abby Gustely, who was a defensive standout and produced a single, a double, a triple and an RBI with her bat. “We played together really well. We jelled. They had some good hitters and they were hitting some gaps, but I think we gave it our all today.”
The Falcons, Greater Catholic League Coed North Division champions for the second straight season, got hammered 12-0 by Bellbrook on the same field April 4.
Despite the earlier outcome, the Golden Eagles (11-6) were seeded eighth and the Falcons (18-8) fifth in the Dayton 2 sectional.
“If we’re going to take positives out of today, it showed that we are a better team than we were in Game 6 of the season,” Fenwick coach George Moore said. “It would be easy to just forget about the first time we played them, but I’m a firm believer that games like that make us the team we are. If we just ignore it, we’re bound to make the same mistakes again.
“We’ve shown improvement. Are we where we want to be? Obviously not because they’re walking away winners, but we’re moving in the right direction as a program.”
All that remains for the Falcons and their three seniors — Annabelle Thomas, Claudia Miller and Emily Moore — is a Friday GCL Coed makeup game against Alter at Ernst Park in Kettering. Fenwick will be trying to equal the program record for wins in a season (19).
“We’ve succeeded in a lot of ways this season,” George Moore said. “It’s not the end result that I want, but I think it’s a pretty good step forward. The girls worked hard and definitely deserve every accolade that they can get.”
Added Gustely, “I’m really happy to be a part of this team. I’m glad for having the time with these seniors that I did. They were great leaders, and it’s going to be hard to see them go. But hopefully we can strive to be like them next year.”
Leah Hemmingsen had two singles, a double and an RBI for Fenwick. Kathryn Bayer drove in a pair of runs.
The Falcons weren’t as sound as they needed to be. They committed three errors and even batted out of order in the second inning.
“We’re a good team. We’re not so good that we can give them runs and make things easy for them,” Moore said. “I thought our team showed tremendous heart today. We had some shining moments from several players, and I thought our pitching was pretty good.
“Bellbrook kept hitting, and some of our best hitters struggled today. We just weren’t consistent enough.”
Rachel Berling pitched the first five innings and Haylee Hook finished for the Falcons as they combined on a seven-hitter. Lefty Randi Holder went the distance in a nine-hitter for Bellbrook.
Kendall Knisely, Sami Seubert and Skylar Barlow plated two runs apiece for the Golden Eagles. Knisely’s two-run, inside-the-park home run in the top of the seventh gave the visitors some breathing room.
“I think we came out a little bit flat, but we really turned it around and started piling it on in the last couple innings,” Bellbrook coach Heather Hebrank said. “The theme of this season has been teamwork and family and picking each other up, and they did that today. I’m proud of them for how hard they worked for that win.
“We have a lot of talented girls and can achieve a lot. I think as long as we show up for each other, we’ll win ballgames.”
Seubert and Barlow each had two hits for the Golden Eagles. Kaley Clark ripped an RBI triple in the first inning, then got intentionally walked three straight times before lining out in the seventh. She scored three runs.
Bellbrook will meet either Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division rival Eaton or Thurgood Marshall in a 5 p.m. district semifinal Tuesday at Tippecanoe.
The Golden Eagles will finish SWBL play at home against Brookville on Friday.
WP — Randi Holder (11-6); LP — Rachel Berling (11-3); HR — B: Kendall Knisely. Records: B 11-6, F 18-8