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SMC Softball: Belles set for season opener vs. Engineers

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 24, 2006

The cold weather has kept the Belles inside for many practices this week, but it has not deterred them in preparing for their regular season opener Saturday at Rose-Hulman. Saint Mary’s coach Elizabeth Sullivan, along with leading seniors Audrey Gajor and Bridget Grall, have kept the team working hard in the gym.

“We have been trying to keep up with everything, continuing what we have been preparing all season,” Gajor said.

The Belles have focused on forming a strong all-around squad.

“We are looking to build off how we did in Florida,” Grall said. “A strong defense, a strong offense – both sides.”

Proving that they are a force to be reckoned with both at the plate and on the mound, the Belles will turn to offensive and defensive stalwarts like Laura Heline and Kristin Amram to better their odds against the Engineers. Heline went 3-3, hitting two home runs and driving in five runs during the Belles’ 7-1 victory over Edgewood on March 13. Amram hurled a no-hitter against Defiance on March 15.

Saint Mary’s will have to turn in strong performances on both offense and defense at Rose Hulman, located in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Engineers are 6-6 and currently No. 1 in fielding percentage at .976 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC).

Rose-Hulman’s sophomore trio of Katie Frey, Katie Yiznitsky and Katie Maggard head the Engineers on both fronts. Frey is hitting .400 with 17 RBIs, Yiznitsky is batting .410 with 12 RBIs and pitcher Maggard has 45 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.

The Belles last met the Engineers in 2004 for a doubleheader. They dropped both games, 4-1 and 4-3.

However, the Belles are not concerned with their past performances.

“That was two years ago,” said Gajor of the 2004 meeting. “We have a completely different team. We are prepared this time.”