BRIDGMAN — Bridgman’s softball team can hit up and down the lineup, as it did in a 13-4 victory over Hartford in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
When the Bees aren’t hitting, they can count on standout pitcher Natalee McNeil to keep them in the game. McNeil tossed a complete game shutout in the opener, a 2-0 Bridgman win.
One way or another, the Bees have been able to win most of their games this season. They have a 25-3 record and wrapped up the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red Division title with a sweep of Comstock on Tuesday.
“We have a young group and they work very well together,” Bridgman coach Elaine Starbuck said. “They’re aggressive.”
Hartford (21-14) got a strong pitching performance from freshman Karly Manning in the opener. Manning struck out nine and kept the Bees off the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth. McNeil delivered the decisive hit, a two-run single with the bases loaded and two outs.
McNeil was at her best in the circle, allowing just one hit and striking out 13.
“She’s phenomenal,” Hartford coach Steve Galvan said. “We faced her last year, and we knew what we were going to face. This is a good, quality team that will get us ready for districts against Coloma.”
Bridgman had better luck against Manning in the second game, scoring 10 runs in the first two innings. The Indians eventually replaced her with another freshman, Descenya Rodarte.
“As a good quality hitter, you kind of figure out the pitching,” Galvan said. “Right now I’m down to one because my other pitcher’s down with injury. I told (Manning), let me know how far you can go in the second game, and then we’ve got to save you for districts when it counts.
“I put in (Rodarte) and just told her to keep us in the game, hold us in there, and she did the best she could.”
Hannah Johnson was the winning pitcher for the Bees in the second game, throwing a complete game.
Autumn Brown led the Bridgman offense in that game, hitting a two-run homer in the second inning and plating two more runs with a third-inning triple.
Kaylee Shuler added two singles and a triple, and Arie Hackett also had three hits.
“The first game, we didn’t come out attacking,” Starbuck said. “We played their game instead of playing our game, how we usually do. In that second game, we decided to come out and play our game.”
Megan Nelson led Hartford on the day with two hits, including a double in the second game.
Bridgman 2, Hartford 0
Hartford 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Bridgman 000 002 x — 2 5 1
WP — Natalee McNeil 13k. LP — Karly Manning 9k.
Top hitters — Hartford: Megan Nelson 1b. Bridgman: Mackenzie Knowlton 2b; McNeil 1b, 2 RBIs.
Bridgman 13, Hartford 4
Hartford 001 030 0 — 4 5 0
Bridgman 460 201 x — 13 17 4
WP — Hannah Johnson. LP — Manning.
Top hitters — Hartford: Nelson 2b; Mikenzie Chambers 1b, RBI. Bridgman: Knowlton 2 1b; Kaylee Shuler 2 1b, 3b, RBI; Arie Hackett 3 1b, RBI; Madelyn Oman 2 1b, 2 RBIs; Autumn Brown HR, 3b, 4 RBIs; Johnson 1b, 2 RBIs; McNeil 2 1b, RBI.
Records — Hartford 21-14, Bridgman 25-3.