CENTERVILLE — The Bellbrook Lady Eagles have been scrapping their way through the entire postseason. They came back from a 9-4 deficit last week against Monroe, and they faced a similar hole in the Division II sectional final against Valley View, Tuesday at Centerville High School.
Down 10-6 with one out and the bases loaded, Bellbrook’s top hitter, senior Emily Smith, was up to bat. On her first two pitches she missed and hit one foul. Down 0-2, she cracked a heater into left-center, scoring two runners. But Spartan outfielder KiLee Genslinger showed impressive arm strength to get the ball to home plate in time to tag out Maranda Phillips. The Golden Eagles lost 10-8.
“We fought back twice and just came up a little bit short. I can’t say enough about how my girls battled through all that and I’m proud of them,” said Bellbrook coach Jeff Eckley. “We’ve been hitting and scoring pretty well here lately, but we had a couple of costly errors that gave them a couple runs. We tried to be aggressive at some times where maybe we shouldn’t have been.”
Valley View (15-11) came prepared, beating Bellbrook (9-13) both times in their regular season meetings, and got on the scoreboard quickly. They capitalized on Bellbrook mistakes and took a 7-1 lead after three innings. In the second inning, they scored three times off of Bellbrook fielding errors.
No strangers to diversity, the Golden Eagles rallied in the fourth inning, putting five runs on the board. Smith had two RBIs in the inning and freshman Vica Apanasewicz had three to bring Bellbrook within one, 7-6. Smith finished her final game as a Golden Eagle 2-4 with one walk and 4 RBIs. Apanasewicz finished 2-4, finishing with four total RBIs.
Valley View’s freshman pitcher Abby Coulter showed composure after being knocked around in the fourth inning, allowing only four hits and two runs for the rest of the game. Bellbrook started to rally in the final inning, but her defense had her back.
Eckley talked about Smith’s performance in the game, including her final at-bat.
“It was a lot of fun. Emily is an outstanding player,” he said. ” We had a lot of confidence in her that she was going to make the play, and she hit the ball hard. Valley View just made a play. The ball got to the gap, they hit their cutoff and the cutoff threw a strike to the plate and knocked her out.”
The future Wilmington Fightin’ Quaker talked about her team’s fight in the contest.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play to get my teammates around. All of their outfield has really good arms. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get the score in, but we all tried our hardest. Not just me, but as a team,” Smith said. “Our season started out pretty interesting. We had a new coach, and that was pretty hard, but a lot of us have known him for pretty much our whole lives. Throughout the year went through some rough patches as a team, but towards the end we started coming together and having more fun. The fact that we were having more fun with it was why we started doing better.”
The Golden Eagles lose valuable seniors in Ali Bowers, Kara Eckley, Maddie Pittman, Haleigh Perry and Smith.
“It’s my first year, so the seniors had to come in and accept my way of doing things, which is different than coaches they’ve had in the past. They adapted to myself and my staff and worked really hard to try and make the most out of their season,” said Eckley. “I can’t say enough about those girls. They worked really hard.”