BELLEVILLE — Belleville East coach Natalie Peters likes seeing Haley Gegelman at the plate in pressure situations.
Gegelman blasted a drive to deep center field for a single that brought home Brittany Hodge with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Lancers clipped the Gibault Hawks 2-1 Wednesday in girls softball.
"Haley is pretty calm, cool and collected in those situations,'' Peters said. "She definitely doesn't shy away from them.''
Gegelman's unflappable demeanor might be genetic. She is the daughter of former East pitcher Mikki McPherson, who led the Lancers to the Class AA state championship in 1989.
"I am pretty good under pressure situations,'' Gegelman said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play and bring the runner home.''
The Lancers improved to 6-3 overall. They bounced back from a 3-2 loss to Edwardsville on Tuesday.
The Hawks dropped to 10-2 with their two losses coming Belleville West and East.
The Hawks might be short on numbers with only 12 players in their softball program, but it's a case of quality over quantity.
"We're a small school, a small program, and we've been playing well,'' Gibault coach David Gregson said. "We needed to be tested like this. I think we played really well. I'm really impressed with the way we played the game today.''
It looked like the Hawks might take a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Kelly Kapp singled up the middle with Morgan Bollinger at third base, but Kapp was called out for stepping on the plate as she slapped the ball.
Gregson was upset over the call.
"It's one thing when you hit the ball and the players make the play or whatever, but when the umpire makes a call like that it takes it away from the girls,'' Gregson said. "It's a little bit harder to swallow. That was the lead run, and if everything plays out the way it does, we win 2-1 in seven innings.''
The Hawks went up 1-0 in the fourth inning when Noelle Davis singled and scored on a double to the left-field fence by Lauren Prader.
The Lancers tied the score at 1-1 in the fifth inning on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Mackenzie Vollmer.
In the eighth, Hodge led off with a single to right field and advanced to second on a passed ball.
Andrea Roberts drew a walk from Gibault starter Morgan Weber, who was then relieved by Megan Wagner.
"She did real well, but you could tell she was losing it out there,'' Gregson said of Weber. "Eight innings out there today with this cool weather. I had to make that move. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.''
Haley Wroten moved the runners to second and third with a ground out to the shortstop. Gegelman then delivered the game-winning hit.
"I thought Hodge coming back from six pretty tough at-bats in a row between last night and tonight and getting the hit in that inning to lead things off showed a lot about her toughness,'' Peters said. "(Andrea) had a great at-bat walking, and Haley just got a hold of one. That was nice.''
East pitcher Alison Mitts allowed five hits. She struck out eight and walked none.
"These next two weeks are going to be really long, and I thought Alison gutted it out probably more than anyone today,'' Peters said. "After a tough game for her yesterday, I thought she was great today.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.