Bellevue softball senior leadoff hitter Sophia Pressler did exactly what any team hopes for from the top of the order. Pressler reached base all four times she batted, including a savvy three-base error in the bottom of the first inning,.
All told, she drove in three runs, and scored a fourth in the Lady Red’s 5-1 win over Ontario in a district semifinal at Edison High School.
With the win, Bellevue (18-5) advanced to today’s Division II district championship game at 5 p.m. against No. 5-ranked and top-seeded Mansfield Madison (22-5).
Pressler hit a grounder to the left side of the infield in her first at bat, but the ball was thrown wide of first base. With no hesitation, she dashed from first to third, and scored when No. 2 batter Maycie Buckner hit a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
“If the ball gets by, I usually go no matter what,” Pressler said. “I listen to my coaches, too. I obviously can’t see it sometimes —but it’s also just an instinct sometimes. You just go.”
In the bottom of the second, Marissa McClenathan abd Skyler Reed each hit infield singles. Pressler then hit a ball to deep left-center, and the Ontario outfielder was unable to come up with it. She strode into third standing up, and the Lady Red had a 3-0 lead off her two-run triple.
“She can fly,” Bellevue coach Walt Snyder said of Pressler. “If you give her just an inch of space, she’s gone, as we saw by her getting to third twice. Most kids don’t have that type of speed.
“Sophia has been doing that for four years,” he added. “She’s one of the best centerfielder’s I’ve ever had. She leads the team in about every category in hitting and can hit for power. This is what she does.”
Ontario got on the board with a solo home run by Emilee Cochran in the top of the third to trail, 3-1. The Warriors then had back-to-back singles with no outs to start the fourth inning, prompting Snyder to bring in Kennedy Ryan in relief of starter Hannah Hill.
The bases were loaded with one out after a sacrifice bunt and a walk, but Ryan got back-to-back ground outs to get the Lady Red out of the inning with no runs allowed.
Hill allowed one run on three hits in three innings, with no walks or strikeouts. Over the last four innings, Ryan allowed no runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout.
“Kennedy looked strong a couple times out so we gave her a shot, and we had another freshman warmed up,” Snyder said. “And if they didn’t work we’d bring in (Lyndsey) Seamon, who may start (today).
“But I took a chance, the Hill girl has been pitching great for us, I just thought we needed a little change in speeds,” he added.
Bellevue scored once each in the fifth and sixth innings.
Pressler led off the fifth with a single, and Buckner followed with an infield single — and both runners advanced to second and third base on the Ontario throwing decision. That set up Raquelle Seamon for a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-1 lead.
In the sixth, Reed and Lara Spurlock each singled, and Pressler again came through with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
“I just try to start things off as the first batter to get the team going,” Pressler said. “I just go up there and try and get on base and get everyone up and get things rolling. The goal is to try to do as much as I can each time up there.”
Snyder’s teams have won plenty over the years, and this season is no exception. Behind Pressler, McClenathan, Buckner and Lyndsey Seamon, the Lady Red are in familiar position in playing for a district title as a league champion.
“I have great senior leadership, I really do,” Snyder said. “This group has been to a regional. That’s what it takes, leadership. You can say coaching is probably 40 percent of it, maybe.
“But a lot of it is leadership, and I’m serious about that,” he added. “You can have all the great athletes in the world, it doesn’t matter without leadership — and we have it in these four seniors.”
Raquelle Seamon, Buckner and Reed each finished with two hits for the Lady Red, while McClenathan and Spurlock each had one to follow Pressler’s three-hit performance.
We’re coming to play like any other day,” Pressler said of today’s game vs. Madison. “It’s one game at a time from now on, so we’re not trying to do too much or too little. We’ll come relaxed and ready to play (today).”
Ontario 001 000 0 — 1 6 2
Bellevue 120 011 x — 5 10 1
WP: Hill; LP: Musille
3B: (B) Pressler; HR: (O) Cochran