BELLEVUE, Neb. -- The freshly ranked (#25) Bellevue University softball team dropped a North Star Athletic Association double-header to visiting Viterbo University on Saturday afternoon at the Lied Center. Viterbo won the opener by a score of 2-1 before going on to claim a 2-0 in the second game of the key conference double-header.
With the split, BU sees their overall record drop to 36-11 while seeing their mark in NSAA play fall to 15-5. Viterbo, who entered the day three games back of the first place Bruins, pulled to within a game off the pace with an overall record of 17-25 and a league mark of 14-6.
The Bruins and V-Hawks will do battle again tomorrow at the Lied Center with first pitch slated for noon.
Game One: Viterbo 2, Bellevue 1
Bellevue scored first but couldn't hold onto a narrow lead as Viterbo scored a run in each the sixth and seventh inning to rally for a 2-1 victory over the host Bruins.
In the bottom of the third Bellevue became the first team to get on the board. After back-to-back outs Kaitlyn Kinman and Maddie Siedlik both came up with singles. Erin Sharpe then blooped a double to right field that the V-Hawk defender couldn't make a sliding catch on which allowed Kinman to come in for the game's first run.
BU's lead stood until Viterbo tied the game in the sixth inning. Hannah Ludescher delivered a leadoff single past the diving second baseman then stole second base during the ensuing at-bat. With one out and Ludescher still on second Kelsey Ludwig drove a double to the left-center gap to plate Ludescher.
In the top half of the seventh, Bailey Thur started the offense for Viterbo with a leadoff double to center field to chase Sharpe from the game. A sac bunt moved her to third and it looked like Kelli Fisher would get out of the inning without a run coming in but Tessa DeSmith poked an outside pitch to right center to score Thur and give the V-Hawks a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh it looked like Bellevue may mount an unconventional rally. Down to their last out Sydney Robertson reached on a passed ball after striking out. She got a great jump and looked to have second base stolen easily before the field umpire inserted himself into the game and inexplicably called her out for leaving the base early to end the game.
Sharpe (L, 7-1) took the loss in the circle. She lasted six innings, allowing a pair of runs on five hits while striking out four.
Sarah Obert (W, 4-7) earned the win for the V-Hawks with six solid innings of her own. She held Bellevue to just one run on five hits. Thur (Save, 2) struck out three batters in working a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
Game Two: Viterbo 2, Bellevue 0
Viterbo scored the game's only runs with runs in the fourth and fifth innings as the V-Hawks earned another pitcher's duel win, 2-0, to complete the Saturday sweep of Bellevue.
After trading zeroes on the scoreboard for the game's first three inning, it was the V-Hawks the opened the scoring. Sarah Obert led off the inning with a double to left-center and came in to score after back-to-back singles form Kelsey Ludwig and Elli Anderson.
Viterbo doubled their advantage in the bottom of the fifth on Hannah Ludescher's run-scoring grounder to first base. The runner on third initially froze but, after seeing the ball kick off the heel of Alex Tooley's glove, charged home and BU had to settle for getting just the batter out at first.
Kelli Fisher (L, 21-4) was the hard-luck loser despite another solid complete game effort. She held Viterbo to two runs on six hits while striking out seven against just one walk but it wasn't enough to make up for a scoreless output by the BU offense.
Kayla McInerney (W, 6-12) recorded the victory with five shutout innings in the circle. She allowed just two hits and two walks before giving way to Bailey Thur (Save, 3). Thur tossed the final two frames and held Bellevue scoreless while surrendering just three hits.