Belmont softball edges Mascenic in 8 innings for program’s first trip to D-III title game

  • Mascenic junior Madison Labrie winds up for a pitch during the D-III semi-final game Wednesday against Belmont. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Belmont senior catcher Jordan Sargent prepares for a pitch during the D-III semifinal game Wednesday. Sargent had a home run in the win. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Senior Catcher Jordan Sargent (left) of Belmont can’t hold on to the ball in time to tag out junior pitcher Madison Labrie (right) at home plate during the D-III semifinal game Wednesday.  Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Belmont junior Julianna Estremera delivers a pitch during the Division III softball semifinals on Wednesday. The Raiders earned a 6-5 win over Mascenic in eight innings. Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, June 07, 2018 9:20AM

Belmont senior Jordan Sargent didn’t know her hit had cleared the fence until she was rounding second base.

“I was just aiming for a single,” she said after her No. 7 Red Raiders ousted the No. 6 Mascenic Vikings, 6-5, in eight innings during the semifinals of the Division III softball tournament Wednesday at Plymouth State University.

Sargent homered in the fourth inning and came around to score the game-winning run in the eighth to propel Belmont to its first championship appearance in program history.

The historic win started with stellar pitching.

Mascenic junior Madison Labrie – the DIII Pitcher of the Year – opened the game for the Vikings with two strikeouts, a walk and then closed out with another strikeout on Belmont’s Jordan Lavallee. For Belmont, junior pitcher Julianna Estremera wanted to set her team off on the right foot. With the first batter flying out, Estremera hit the next batter then struck out the next two.

Both teams battled back and forth with solid pitching leading to a scoreless first 4½ innings.

“Early in the game was straight (pitching) from both sides,” Belmont coach Bill Clary said. “It was the fourth inning that we put a lot of balls in play.”

Although the Vikings broke the scoreless tie with an RBI double from sophomore outfielder Tori Cardinal in the bottom of the fourth, Belmont answered right back.

Sargent homered to deep left field and opened the way for Belmont’s commanding top of the fifth, scoring five runs on four hits. Labrie walked the next batter for Belmont, junior infielder Chantelle Martin, who stole second base moments later. Freshman outfielder Kelley Allen laid down a sacrifice bunt to send Martin to third. With a single going over the head of the shortstop, junior outfielder Lizzie Flemming tallied the RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.

Lavallee returned to the plate for Belmont with bases loaded and the sun shining. With the outfielders looking right into the sun, the time of day would prove costly for the Vikings. Lavallee blasted a pitch deep into left field, and the Vikings outfielder lost the ball in the sunlight leading to a three-RBI double for Lavallee giving the Red Raiders a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Vikings coach Dutch Stauffeneker said a few errors did take a toll of his team.

“We talk about that. When a ball goes into the sun to be able to just keep running through and a lot of times you’ll pick it up again but that’s not easy to do when you’re blind and you’re running at a ball,” he said.

Mascenic answered in the bottom of the fifth with three runs of its own. With Mascenic trying to tie the game – and keep its championship hopes alive – in the bottom of the seventh, senior infielder Sydney Letters smacked an RBI double to bring the score to 5-5. To close out the inning and force an extra frame, Estremera struck out senior infielder Jordyn Babin.

Belmont jumped ahead in the top of eighth inning after an error in left field for the Vikings off another bomb from Sargent paved the way for an RBI single from Martin to give Belmont the 6-5 win.

“I thanked my seniors. I thanked for their fight, thanked them for the memories they gave us this season,” Stauffeneker said. “For their grit and their toughness to come back.”

Belmont will face top-seeded and two-time defending champion White Mountains on Saturday at 4 p.m. for the DIII championship at Plymouth State University.