Belton finishes fifth at 19th Annual FoRRS Tourney

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If the 19th Annual Friends of Round Rock Softball Preseason Tournament at Old Settlers Park was an indication of the brand of play that we will see out of the Belton Lady Tigers Softball program, it should be an exciting ride.
Don’t let the 5-2, fifth-place finish fool you: Belton was mixing it up on the diamond with some strong teams. That is fifth-place out of 27. They beat Houston Bellaire, the team that won the entire tournament, in the first game of pool play, The two losses that they sustained, Dripping Springs and Round Rock (Black), finished second and fourth respectively.
Pool play started on Saturday morning against Bellaire. The Lady Cardinals, who Belton beat in the Bryan-College Station Tournament last season, threw a junior varsity pitcher to gain her some experience.
The Lady Tigers were happy to oblige.
Avery Drake opened with a walk and stole second base. Makenzie Bartlett sacrifice bunted Drake over to third base and she scored on Bethany Edwards’ single. Madison Ward singled Edwards to second, Caleigh Robinson singled home Edwards, Madison Bartlett doubled home Ward, Robinson scored on a passed ball and Payton Cook knocked in Madison Bartlett with a ground out. Within 16 pitches, Belton was up 5-0.
Freshman Harley Staton got the start in the circle for Belton. She pitched two innings and struck out three of the first four batters that she faced. Mckayla Seeliger allowed an unearned run in the second inning and Hannah Kelley closed out the game.
Belton scored in the third inning, as Edwards reached base on an infield single and stole two bases. She scored on Robinson’s single to put Belton up 6-1.
Hannah Kelley came in to finish the 60-minute time limit affair with two walks, a hit and a strikeout in an inning pitched.
Edwards and Robinson each went 2-of-2 with an RBI. Belton collected eight hits and left three runners aboard.
The Lady Tigers took on Ennis in the second pool game. Taylor Tubbs got the start in the circle and had a to pitch her way out of a jam, stranding two runners on base.
The offense went to work with another first-inning attack. Paige Nunes was hit by a 1-0 pitch, took second on a wild pitch and Miranda Davila walked. With two outs, Staton drilled a 2-0 pitch into the left-centerfield gap to score Nunes and Davila. Seeliger doubled home Staton and Drake doubled in Staton. Belton led Ennis 4-0 after the first inning.
Madison Cotton came in for pitching purposed in the second and third innings, as she struck out four Lady Lions, walked one and allowed just a bunt single.
Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers continued to attack on offense. In the second inning, Ward was hit by a pitch, Robinson doubled Ward home and Nunes singled in Robinson.
In the third, Alina Holguin doubled and advanced to third and home on wild pitches to complete the scoring.
In Belton’s 7-0 win, they had six hits (six different players) and stranded four runners.
The Lady Tigers started bracket play against Leander, a team that Belton beat handily in the Round Rock Lady Dragon’s tournament last February.
Cotton got the start and set the tone for the game with a wicked rise ball and a filthy change up that fooled the first batter into a strikeout that looked like it was straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. She fanned two batters, retired two on grounders back to the circle and a pair of weak infield fly balls in a perfect two-inning start.
Edwards found lightning in a bottle in the bottom of the first and smashed a line shot down the third base line that rattled around in the corner. Belton coach Seth Alcozer had the windmill going in the third base coaches box, waving Edwards all the way around to score. Edwards, known for her power at the plate, also got to display her speed to put Belton up 1-0.
The Lady Tigers were playing on Gold Glove Field 18, a baseball field serves as a softball field during tournaments. It was the very field Ward’s younger brother, Trey, hit a grand slam on last summer. Ward smashed a 1-2 pitch over the centerfielder’s head and she steamed into third with a triple. Robinson drove in Ward and Belton led 2-0 after the first inning.
Belton scored again in the third inning. Edwards walked and scored on Robinson’s double. It was all that Belton needed, as they relegated Leander to the loser’s bracket with a 3-0 win.
Kelley pitched the third inning, struck out two and walked one. Tubbs finished the last two innings with scoreless relief.
Cotton was handed the ball for the next game against perennial powerhouse Dripping Springs, 2017’s Class 5A finalist.
It was a strong start for the powerful junior, but the fact that two-out walks will hurt you was certainly true in the first inning.
After back-to-back walks, Ryann Campbell doubled home the two base runners to give Dripping Springs a 2-0 lead.
Drake reached base on an error to lead off the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Ward drilled a pitch into the right centerfield gap to score the speedy Drake to split the deficit to 2-1.
The Belton offense went cold following Drake’s double, as Springs’ pitching retired the next 10 batters.
Tubbs took over in the circle to start the fourth inning. The game stayed 2-1 until the fifth inning when with one out, Springs loaded the bases with two walks sandwiched around an infield single. Camille Corona cleared the bases with a triple down the right field line and scored on double by Riley Dunn. Paige Lebscher doubled to right field. But a perfect relay from Seeliger to Ward to Edwards snuffed out Dunn’s attempt to score. Springs led 6-1 and held on for the win.
Ward picked up the only hit of the contest, as Belton stranded two runners on base.
Cotton took the loss, as she pitched three innings, allowed two runs on two hits, struck out one and walked two batters who both scored. Tubbs went two innings in relief, allowed four runs on five hits, walked two and struck out one.
The Lady Tigers dropped into the loser’s bracket for an early evening game with Elgin, who was dropped into the loser’s bracket by Port Lavaca Calhoun. The Wildcats won games against Ennis and Thorndale prior to the game.
Kelley got the start in the circle and worked out of a Wildcat double on the second pitch of the game. After a Kelley strikeout, Madison Bartlett made a stellar play at the third base on a pop fly and Makenzie Bartlett made a nice running catch in centerfield to keep Elgin off the board in the first inning.
The Wildcats plated two runs with one out in the second inning, with a bases-loaded two run single. But a solid catch on a fly ball to right field by Holguin created a throw out at second base to get the Lady Tigers out of trouble.
Belton got to longtime starter Gracy Crafts in the bottom of the second inning. Ward doubled, Robinson walked and Izzy Gutierrez walked to load the bases. Madison Bartlett walked to score Ward, Sniggs walked to score Robinson and Gutierrez scored by way of an errant throw by the Elgin catcher to give Belton a 3-2 lead.
Crafts was relieved by Kaylee Burdoll and she closed the door on the rally. It included Crafts robbing Makenzie Bartlett on a bid for a hit in the third inning with a diving catch in centerfield.
Meanwhile, Belton held its own in the field and in the circle, with holding the Wildcats off the scoreboard. The Lady Tigers won 2-1, which sent Elgin home and moved Belton on against Lake Travis.
The Lady Cavaliers, who the Lady Tigers will see in Austin on April 14, came out and scored an unearned run on Staton in the first inning on two errors. Seeliger ran a ball down in the gap with two outs to keep Lake Travis from doing further damage.
Drake singled to start the bottom of the first inning, after a steal, Edwards singled drake to third. With one out, Ward flew out to right field and Drake broke for the plate. Throw from the right fielder was on the money and Drake was tagged out to end the threat.
Belton scored in the second inning. Robinson was hit by a pitch, Madison Sniggs reached on an error and Holguin singled in Robinson to cut the Lake Travis tie the game at 1-1.
The Lady Cavs took the lead back in the top of the third on an RBI single.
The Lady Tigers broke the game open in the bottom of the third inning. Drake singled and stole second base. With two outs, Ward walked and Robinson was hit by a pitch for the second time on the night to load the bases.
Gutierrez, who won the 165-lb. weight class at for Belton at the Cameron Invitational Powerlifting Meeting just hours before the game, crushed the first pitch she saw off of the right centerfield fence for a grand slam. The homer made the score 5-2.
Edwards’ arm and catching prowess was on full display in the fourth inning and threw the Lady Cavs’ rally in full reverse. With runners on first and second with no one out, Edwards threw down to second base with the runner’s back turned heading towards the bag. The runner was called out. Cotton then fanned the next two batters and the inning was over.
Lake Travis collected a two-run single in the final inning, but the game-tying run was stranded on first base. Belton won 5-4 to guarantee a Sunday trip back to Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
Drake went 3-of-3 for Belton, as they collected six hits and stranded seven runners in four innings. Staton picked up the win and Cotton picked up the two-inning save.
After a short night’s rest, the Lady Tigers took on Round Rock, a team that they faced and defeated three times in 2017.
Tubbs got the ball to start the game and retired the Lady Dragons in order in the first inning.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Davila doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Holguin walked and stole second base to put runners in scoring position. Ward struck out and Robinson grounded out on a lined one-hopper to shortstop to retire the side.
Round Rock broke the game open on a lead-off homer, two-run single and RBI single in the top of the second inning to go up, 4-0.
A strikeout ended a second-and-third rally in the second inning and a judgment call by the field umpire out of position between first and second snuffed a rally attempt in the third inning. Madison Bartlett ground softly to the Lady Dragon second baseman and she turned to throw to second base. The shortstop took the throw, about six inches away from the bag and relayed a throw to first. Makenzie Bartlett was called out on a force play. The next batter struck out and the rally was not to be.
Round Rock responded with a three-run shot off of Kelley in relief.
The final opportunity for Belton to get onto the scoreboard occurred when Robinson walked and Cook came on as a courtesy runner to lead off of the bottom of the final inning. Gutierrez lined a base hit to right field and Cook bolted from first base, but fell in the base path when she hit a soft spot and could not make it to second to beat the throw from right field. Two batters later, the game and the tournament stay ended for the Lady Tigers.
Davila went 2-of-2 to lead the Lady Tigers, who collected four hits and stranded seven runners on base.
Overall, the team hit .287 (33-of-115) and scored 25 runs.
Edwards and Robinson had five hits each, while Ward and Drake each had four hits.
Kelley pitched nine innings, Tubbs and Cotton pitched seven innings, Staton dealt five innings and Seeliger tossed an inning. The staff allowed 19 earned runs in 29 innings, struck out 17 and walked 15, combining for a staff earned run average of 3.27 on a five-inning scale (average tournament game length).