Bellwood Antis’ Taylor Payne outdueled Bellefonte freshman Rachel Bernier to win a 1-0 thriller in the championship game of the B.J. Wetzler Memorial softball tournament on Saturday at O’Leary Fields.
The Lady Red Raiders (3-1) beat West Branch 7-2 in the semifinals to advance to the title game.
The difference in the title game game in the first inning. With one out, Bellwood’s Emily Nagle blasted a home run that traveled up the hill in right field. From there, Bernier, making her first varsity start, matched zeroes with Payne, who led the Blue Devils to the District 6 Class A title last season. Payne tossed a four-hitter with 13 strikeouts. Bernier, who gave up had a six-hitter with three strikeouts.
“Rachel pitched a great game,” Bellefonte coach Gregg Kohlhepp said. “After the first inning, she settled down, was composed and pitched great.”
Jess McClenahan’s double was the only extra base hit for the Lady Raiders. “We had the leadoff hitter on in four of the first five innings,” Kohlhepp said. “You’ve got to be able to manufacture runs in those situations.”
In the opener, Stevi Confer pitched and hit Bellefonte (3-1) past West Branch. Confer allowed six hits and struck out four in six innings. She also cracked three hits, including an RBI triple, and drove in three runs.
Erica DeVinney had three hits and an RBI for the Lady Raiders. Madison McCracken and MeLesha Ahlberg had two hits each for West Branch.
The tournament honored Wetzler, a former Lady Raider standout who died from cancer in 2006 at age 27. “It was a nice day and nice to be able talk to team about B.J. Weltzer,” Kohlhepp said. “It is important to the them know the tradion of the program and her legacy.”