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SMC Softball: Belles battle for berth in the second season

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, April 28, 2006

Saint Mary’s heads on the road Saturday to take on Kalamazoo at 1 p.m. in its last regular season game, hoping to secure a berth in the MIAA tournament.

The Belles are currently No. 3 in the league, leading Albion and OIivet by one game. The top four teams in the conference earn bids to the tournament.

Saint Mary’s last squared off with Kalamazoo last season when the Belles swept the Hornets 4-3 and 10-4.

The two wins over Kalamazoo were the only two conference wins the Belles collected in the 2005 season. But Saint Mary’s enters the weekend with a 25-11 record, including a 9-5 mark in league play.

Kalamazoo is 1-13 in MIAA action heading into its final game. The Hornets last played Tuesday against Olivet and fell 11-0 and 12-0.

Kalamazoo pitcher Michelle Brittain and first baseman Emily Schoolmaster each posted a hit in the game.

Before the losses to Olivet, the Hornets swept Goshen 6-5 and 2-1 on April 22. Brittain earned a win from the mound in the first game, and Schoolmaster once again tallied a hit. Hornets outfielder Lauren Millar led the Hornets from behind the plate driving in three RBIs.

The Belles swept Goshen 10-1 and 6-1 Wednesday.

Belles coach Erin Sullivan said the team is looking to carry the momentum from the victories into the Kalamazoo game.

“We are going to try and jump on them early,” Sullivan said. “Swing a good strike.”

Saint Mary’s pitcher and outfielder Bridget Grall agrees. She said that the Belles have looked forward to the post-season all year, and their energy is peaking now.

“The motivation of making the tournament has really been carrying us through,” Grall said.

The sweep of Goshen brought Saint Mary’s win total to 25, giving the team its highest number of wins since 1984. Sullivan said the Belles have taken steps to reach the MIAA tournament but need to continue playing their game to get there.

“We are going to look to perfect the little things,” Sullivan said. “Make no mental mistakes.”

If Saint Mary’s does not qualify for the MIAA tournament, the game against Kalamazoo will be the last for Belles’ seniors Grall, Audrey Gajor, and Meghan Marenkovic. As the seniors head into the last few weeks of their season, Grall says they are focusing on what lies ahead.

“We are not focusing on the past at all,” Grall said. “We are only looking to what the future may hold.”