ATTICA – In her position as lead-off hitter for the Bellevue softball team, Sophia Pressler has made her living by slapping the baseball in the infield and using her speed to reach base.
But Pressler is more than just a singles hitter, and the freshman proved that Tuesday afternoon against Bellville Clear Fork.
With her team trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning, Pressler approached the plate with bases loaded and quickly blasted a pitch to the fence left field, driving in three runs with a momentum-seizing triple.
Pressler’s big hit opened the floodgates for the Lady Red, who went on to score all eight of their runs in that inning en route to an 8-4 Division II district semifinal victory over Clear Fork.
“I play travel ball, so this is what I’m used to, so it wasn’t that much pressure, but I enjoy it,” said Pressler, who added more than half of her hits this season have come from slapping the ball.
“I love to hit. It was fun for me to go up there and get to hit and drive the runs in.”
With the victory, Bellevue (19-7) advances to Friday’s district championship game, where the Lady Red will meet the winner of Edison and Shelby, who play Wednesday at Seneca East High School.
“That’s not the first time (Pressler has) burned people,” Bellevue coach Walt Snyder said. “Everybody plays her in because they think she’s a slapper, but she really has some power.”
The loss ends Clear Fork’s season at 21-8 overall.
“One game doesn’t make a season,” Clear Fork coach Jeff Gottfried said. “I told them if people had to predict what we were going to do this year, it wasn’t going to be what we did — win the conference, get a share of it. We had our backs against the wall with three games to go in the conference, and we had a big two weeks.”
Though Pressler’s three-RBI triple tied the game, Bellevue quickly added to it. Freshman Lyndsey Seamon followed with a triple of her own, scoring Pressler and giving Bellevue the lead. Morgan Andrews then added an RBI double. Two batters later, a catching error on a pop fly allowed Bellevue to add two more runs to the scoreboard for an 8-3 lead after the second inning.
“The dropped pop-up killed us,” Gottfried said. “That gave them those two extra runs, and that put us down five runs, and that’s a very tough hill to climb against a very good pitcher.”
Morgan Andrews got the win for Bellevue as she allowed just three hits in seven innings with one walk and three strikeouts but had to get herself out of a couple jams because her defense committed six errors in the field.
“When you do that, you’re lucky to win,” Snyder said.
Gottfried said his team was largely unable to capitalize on Bellevue’s miscues.
“I think a lot of the mistakes they made, they made with two outs,” he said. “You can get away with some of those two-out errors, especially if the other team doesn’t have the right kids at the plate.”
Clear Fork took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks, in part, to Bellevue’s first two errors of the game. Darian Gottfried had a sacrifice fly RBI in the first inning and Caitlynn Hilverding had an RBI double in the top of fifth inning for the Colts.
“We didn’t have a let-down today, we were ready to play, but we just ran into a better team,” Gottfried said. “Sometimes, on a given day, the other team is better than you.”