BELTON — Spring break softball in the rain? Seven entertaining innings later, the Tem-Cats and Lady Tigers said, sure, no problem.
McKayla Seeliger and Maddison Parker each hit three-run home runs, and Belton pulled away from Temple 13-4 on a soggy Monday afternoon at Lady Tiger Field.
Seeliger’s homer capped a five-run third inning that broke open an early pitchers’ duel between Temple’s Hayli Hesse and Belton’s Hannah Kelley. Parker’s blast in the bottom of the fifth, part of her 3-for-3 performance at the plate that also included a double and a triple, countered the Tem-Cats’ three runs in the top half of the frame and pushed the Lady Tigers’ lead to the final margin of nine.
“The five-run inning kind of helped us out, took some of the pressure off and allowed us to just play ball,” Belton coach Matt Blackburn said. “We didn’t try to do too much that was special, just get up there and hit the ball.”
The Lady Tigers (13-7, 4-0 District 12-6A) did that to the tune of 15 hits, including nine for extra bases.
“We know that once we get that first hit, it’s going to start going,” said Kelley, who’s always appreciative of the added run support. “So all we can do is cheer in the dugout and get loud.”
Madison Lux finished 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBIs for Belton. Paige Nunes had two hits and scored four times, Bethany Sherwood went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Autumn Holman had a pair of singles in the Lady Tigers’ offensive outpouring, which helped offset a handful of defensive miscues along the way.
“We have to play better,” said Blackburn, whose team committed three errors in Temple’s three-run fifth and four overall. “It’s kind of been our M.O. this year: give up some hits, make some errors and hope you outscore them.”
Kelley closed her complete game with her ninth strikeout of the matinee rivalry contest. She allowed a first-inning solo home run to Lily Wiser then settled in after that, surrendering just two hits the rest of the way.
Hesse also went the distance, fanning three in the loss.
Temple’s 1-0 lead provided by Wiser’s no-doubter over the wall in center field was short-lived.
Belton scored twice on two hits and two errors — Temple had six errors in all — in the bottom of the first, which featured Sherwood’s RBI fly out and Lux’s RBI triple that chased in Parker.
“I just feel like Hesse did her job. We just didn’t do our part in the field. We have to do better,” Temple first-year head coach Le-Net Franklin said after coaching against her alma mater for the first time. “We’re a young team but that’s not an excuse for some of the routine plays that we have to take care of. They know we have to clean up certain areas and communicate a little bit more. Other than that, I think they have it figured out.”
Run-scoring doubles from Sherwood and Lux, and Seeliger’s line-drive home run to left field in the third made it 7-1.
Parker boosted it to 8-1 in the fourth with an RBI triple, and the Lady Tigers tacked on two more on a wild pitch and error to carry a 10-1 advantage into the fifth.
“They caught on to us pitching out more and crowded the plate, so we tried to push them off a little bit,” Hesse said. “That started to work toward the end, but I think we started that too late.”
LeeAna Quinones and Alena Salazar had singles for Temple (10-8, 1-2) in the fifth, when Quinones, Cameryn Stewart and Elise Munoz all came around to score.
Parker, though, all but sealed the outcome with her home run in Belton’s half of the fifth.
The Lady Tigers now are off until next Tuesday while the Tem-Cats jump right back into district action at 2 p.m. today at home against Killeen.
“We don’t want to let this affect us,” Hesse said. “We want it to push us to work harder and bounce back.”