Softball: Conant knocked out at Belmont for second straight season

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team traveled to Belmont on Wednesday for the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/29/2019 10:39:41 PM

Conant’s season ended on Belmont’s field for the second straight spring as the Orioles lost a 3-0 lead – and then the game – to the Red Raiders in the first round of the NHIAA Division III playoffs on Wednesday.

The No. 11 Orioles (8-9) had revenge on their minds after last year’s 10-2 loss to eventual runners-up and this year’s sixth-seed Belmont. 

“After the game last year, that gave us all the more drive to want to win this game, make it farther this year,” said senior third baseman/pitcher Brenna Welch. 

With Manea Aho on the mound, Conant held the Raiders to one run over the first four innings, with a Julianna Estremera sacrifice fly putting Belmont on the board in the bottom of the third. 

The Orioles, meanwhile, were looking good at the plate, getting the leadoff batter on in each of the first five innings against starter Kelly Allen and breaking through in the third as Silas Bernier (1-3, BB, R) walked, and then Madison Picard (1-3, RBI, BB, R), Manea Aho (3-4, RBI, R) and Camri Aho (1-2, RBI, R) drove in runs.

Conant was up 3-1 in the fifth inning, in the driver’s seat, a trip to defending champions White Mountains on the line.

That’s when the wheels fell off.

Lizzie Fleming led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk and got sacrifice bunted to second. Manea Aho then walked Estremera intentionally and then allowed a hard-hit single by Raven Gates; Fleming held at third and the bases were juiced with one down. 

Becca Fleming squibbed a ball off the end of her bat that skittered down the first-base line; it could have gone foul, but it stayed fair, and Picard had no choice but to grab it and fire home. Catcher Tessa Spingola had the ball in time while standing on the plate, but Fleming slid in, Spingola hit her with an unnecessary tag, the ball squirted out, and the call was safe. 

On the very next play, Aho induced another grounder, right back to the mound; a slight bobble and the throw home was late.

She’d walk the next batter and allow a single to the one after that, and all of a sudden it was 5-3 Belmont.

Things couldn’t get any worse for Conant – until they did. Back up again after leading off the inning, Lizzie Fleming made her fourth time through count, taking a 3-0 pitch deep to center for a game-breaking grand slam.

Conant head coach Wiley Billings couldn’t help but lament the misplays that cost his Orioles two outs and extended the inning.

“If we get those outs, [the grand slam] doesn’t happen,” Billings said. “If we execute, we get out of that inning.”

That was it for Aho, and Welch came in to relieve. Gates added a two-run double for Belmont in the fifth and when the inning mercifully ended, the Raiders were up 10-3. 

Belmont added another run in the sixth before Conant came for their last ups. Despite the looming deficit, the Orioles gave it a go. 

“We’ve always kind of been like that,” Welch said. “We’ve always had a seventh-inning mentality. We never wanted to give up.”

Manea Aho singled; on deck, Camri Aho urged her teammates to get loud one last time for the seniors. She’d walk; Bella Hayes drove in a run and Mylie Aho another, but Savannah Perkins snatched up Spingola’s grounder to second and flipped it over to Estremera to end the game, 11-5 Belmont.

“If a few things happened the way we wished they would, maybe the outcome would have been different,” Welch said. 

Conant graduates Welch, Picard and Camri Aho but returns six starters otherwise.

Belmont (14-3) travels to No. 3 White Mountains (12-3) Saturday for the quarterfinals. 

Mascenic 12, Trinity 0

The No. 2 Vikings did just about what you’d expect to No. 15 Trinity in their playoff game Wednesday, beating the Pioneers by 12 runs, as they did in the season opener. 

Madison Labrie threw a six-inning one-hitter with nine strikeouts for the win, the 58th of her career. 

Shelby Babin went 3-4 with two doubles and two RBI; Sam Hughson (2-4) knocked in three; Avery McClain (1-3) drove in another two, and Becca Staton (1-3), Madison Labrie (2-3, 3 R), Tori Cardinal (2-2) and Brookelyn Labrie drove in one run each.

Mascenic (15-2) hosts No. 7 Hopkinton (13-4) Saturday at 4 p.m.




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