The recent rain didn’t just wash out games for the Belleville East softball team, it also threatened to douse the flames of a five-game winning streak.
But the Lancers hardly looked out of step despite their nine-day break. Sophomore pitcher Kristina Bettis worked around five Belleville West hits and senior Lindsey Mossman drove him a pair of runs in the third to lead East to a 3-1 win over the Maroons Thursday.
It was the Lancers’ sixth win in a row since a streak in which they lost four out of five. They improved to 14-6.
“We were a little nervous there because we felt like we were picking up some speed, then all of the sudden we couldn’t play for a week,” said East coach Natalie Peters. “But, you know, sometimes it’s great to get that practice time a couple of days in a row. When you have a bunch of games you don’t always get to work on what you need. As it turned out, I think the time off was a help.”
Coming off their own three-game winning streak, which included a 12-inning walk-off win Wednesday against Nashville, the Maroons (10-13) believed they may have turned the corner on their season as well.
Sophomore pitcher Paige Cates was solid in her third straight start, scattering eight hits while striking out three and walking none.
Bettis earned the win, however, thanks to a little more support from her offense and an error-free defense. She surrendered single runs in the fourth and seventh innings, while striking out four.
Twice, Bettis had streaks where she retired eight batters in a row.
“First you want to get a strike, then once I get two on them I try to throw it off the plate,” said the soft-spoken sophomore. “I had some confidence today because the defense helped out and once we had the lead, that gave me some confidence too.”
The Lancers put runners on second and third with none out in the bottom of the third, when junior Jessica Belzer doubled and Brooke Laidley reached when West misplayed her sacrifice bunt.
Mossman, who had two hits in the game, singled home both runs and later scored on a ground out by Kendall Patton.
“Paige pitched really well, once again, and we were able to play some solid defense behind her for the most part,” said West coach Casey Garrett. “It’s just one big error in that one inning and we couldn’t overcome it this time.”
West scratched out a run in the top of the fourth when Olivia Young singled and scored on an RBI single by Cates.
The Maroons threatened in the seventh. Daisha Price doubled and scored on a two-out hit by freshman Aleigha Cory. But Bettis retired the top of the Maroons’ lineup to escape trouble and secure the win.
Belzer went 3-for-3 with a run scored and Mossman was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Amanda Dermody, Bettis and Quiozha Alexander had East’s other hits.
Kiri Evans, Young, Cates, Price and Cory had West’s hits.