Rapid River Rockets’ pitcher Natalie Belanger racks up pair of perfect games vs. Munising softball team

Munising’s Maci Cornish, right, throws to Ainsley Boneielle during warm-ups on Thursday at Rapid River in a high school softball doubleheader against the Rockets. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours)

RAPID RIVER — The weather turned blustery after a downpour a day earlier, but the Rapid River softball team stayed hot Thursday on its field against Munising.

The Rockets swept the Mustangs 15-0 in both games as Rapid River pitcher Natalie Belanger came away with two perfect games.

In both games, Belanger didn’t find out until after it was called that she’d pitched them perfectly.

“When I was warming up, my arm felt really good,” Belanger said. “When I was pitching on the mound, I just kept going. I knew I couldn’t stop, and it felt really natural today.”

Rockets’ coach George Kaynuh attributed her success to good old hard work.

“What can you say about Natalie (Belanger)?” he said. “That’s just a tribute to the hard work she puts in.”

Munising touched grass for the first time this season, and coach Evan LaFave was just happy to be outside.

“This was our first time outside on a field this year,” he said. “We tried not to expect too much, but all the girls’ attitudes were good about it. We’ve shown today that we have a lot of room to improve, and that’s what we plan to do.”

The first game was called after four innings when Kristen Goodacre crossed the plate on a double to left field from Myah Pearson.

Kiira Paulsen took the loss for the Mustangs.

Belanger faced 12 batters and struck out 11. Goodacre went 3 for 3 and collected her first varsity home run. She also scored four runs and notched four RBIs while teammates Riley Edwardsen and Cecilia Pilon each finished with two hits.

“It was nice to see,” Kaynuh said. “So far this year, this had probably been our best at bat.”

The Rockets took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the second game. Pilon made it to first after being struck by the pitch. She crossed the plate on a double to left field from Emily Goodacre, and Kristen Goodacre scored off a single from Jaden Schwartz.

Rapid River blew things open in the second inning, racking up 12 more runs. After three walks, McKenzi Schram made it across the plate on a single from Kristen Goodacre. Emily Goodacre and Pilon scored when Belanger doubled on a shot to center field. Schwartz tripled at the end of the inning for two more runs to increase the lead to 14-0. A shot from Pilon let Riley Edwardsen cross the plate to seal the game in the third.

Sydney Curtis finished with the loss for the Mustangs over three innings. She allowed 13 hits, four walks and 15 runs. She struck out one.

Belanger took the win over three innings. She faced nine and struck out seven for another perfect game. Kristen Goodacre went 3 for 3 again with a double and three RBIs. Schwartz also went 3 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs. Pilon collected two hits and three runs. Belanger finished with two hits and knocked in four runs.

“It wasn’t the best day for weather again, but we’re starting to get used to it,” Kaynuh said. “Our pitching was great, our bats were there, but our defense didn’t get tested too much because of Natalie’s strikeouts. Overall, the girls did well.”

Rapid River hosts Negaunee Monday.