Napoleon rallies to run-rule Bellevue

PHOTO BY ZACH BAKER Bellevue third baseman Alex Fiske (left), first baseman Riley Moore (34) and pitcher Hannah Hill meet between innings during a Division II regional semifinal against Napoleon at Tiffin University Wednesday.

Bellevue appeared to have Napoleon — and its starting pitcher — on the ropes.

The first four batters reached against the Wildcats’ Megan Richardson in the first inning. An Emma Weller walk was followed by singles from Kearston Lunsford and Raquelle Seamon, which loaded the bases.

Riley Moore then smacked a two-run double, pushing Seamon to third.

It was 2-0 Lady Red and there were no outs.

Jillian Sumser struck out, then Alex Fiske was intentionally passed to load the bases.

But Richardson halted the potentially big inning. She struck out Hannah Hill, then got Skyler Reed to ground to second.

“I thought our approach to the hitting was pretty good, we just didn’t get the key hit at the right time,” Bellevue coach Walt Snyder said. “We could have broke the game open in the first inning, but we didn’t.”

And not getting more runs proved costly.

Napoleon answered with three runs in the third, five in the fourth and four more in the fifth, advancing to Saturday’s final with a 12-2 run-rule win.

Napoleon (15-6) will advance to Friday’s final against the top-ranked team in Division II, perennial power LaGrange Keystone.

Wildcats coach Kelsey Meyer said limiting Bellevue to two runs in the first was a key to Wednesday’s win.

“That was the first thing I said to them when they came in from that first inning,” Meyer said. “I said, ‘That is huge that we held them to 2, because they could have made that a lot more detrimental.'”

And then Richardson took over.

In the circle, and at the plate.

She got the Wildcats on the board when — with runners on first and second and nobody out — she laid down a bunt that evaded the infielders and nearly trickled to the outfield, scoring the runner from second and allowing the other two to reach second and third.

The Wildcats laid down a number of successful bunts against the Lady Red.

“They bunted us to death,” Snyder said. “We never had any problem all year fielding bunts, and getting the job done. It just didn’t happen today.”

Bekah Zachrich followed with a two-run single to give Napoleon the lead. Then in the fourth, with the bases loaded, Richardson connected on a bases-clearing triple to center. And an inning later, she clobbered a two-run homer to left.

Richardson finished 3 for 4 with six RBIs.

And she carried that performance into her pitching. She escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the third, and finished with six strikeouts, only allowing the two first inning runs.

“She came back and did a nice job,” Snyder said.

Meyer agreed.

“I think Megan saw that her team was behind her,” she said. “We come out hitting — she helped herself with a big triple — and she settled down. We went into the second inning, and she had it. She was in control, she figured out her pitches, she just honed in and pitched her game.”

Bellevue bowed out of tournament play at 20-5.

The Lady Red’s roster is full of youth. It has only three seniors: Riley Hager, Kennedy Ryan and star player Riley Mohr.

“I’m very proud we got this far. I’m very happy,” Snyder said. “When you come this far, you better do everything right. We didn’t do everything right.”