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Belles take down Comets

Rebecca Slinger | Monday, April 23, 2007

Saint Mary’s moved up two spots in the MIAA rankings to No. 6 after blasting conference nemesis eighth-place Olivet 13-7 and 9-1 at Gainey Field Saturday.

Beating the Comets (15-12, 3-8 MIAA) was no easy job for the Belles (18-6, 3-5 MIAA). Olivet hit Saint Mary’s hard out of the gate, scoring seven runs in the first inning, including a first-pitch leadoff home run from Olivet sophomore shortstop Kacie Rosecrants off Belles sophomore pitcher Calli Davison (3.66 ERA).

The Belles went hitless until the third when sophomore first baseman Katie Rashid homered and knocked in senior designated hitter Laura Heline. Sophomore catcher Ashley Fusaro continued the Belles comeback as Heline scored on an error. Sophomores Cathy Kurczak and Rashid also scored unearned runs in the fourth.

Davison, who gave up just four hits after the first inning, struck out Comet second baseman Heather Jones to end the game at 13-7.

Belles head coach Erin Sullivan said the team’s strategy to close the 7-0 deficit in the first inning was simple.

“It was win every inning. That was our goal – win every inning,” she said.

In the second game, the Belles had five hits on Comets pitcher Danielle Kapral. Kapral was replaced by reliever Haley Van Epps after the third, but the Belles could not be stopped, plating three more off Epps in two innings.

The Belles’ 9-1 pounding of Olivet in the second game was largely due to sophomore pitcher Kristin Amram’s (1.05 ERA) near-perfect form – the Comets managed just two hits off her.

The rest of the team came out swinging too, driving in nine runs and 10 hits. In the first, junior designated hitter McKenna Corrigan singled to score freshman outfielder Ashley Peterson, and Heline knocked in senior shortstop Sarah Miesle on a single. The Comets responded with one run in the first.

But the Belles’ retooled lineup and work in practice allowed them to keep pounding away at the Comets’ pitching.

“We … made some changes in our lineup. We switched around the top three which gives Mo [Healy] more chances as a slapper,” Sullivan said. “We practiced like we were warming up for a game. I feel like everyday we’re ready for a game.”

The Belles continued their dominance in the fourth and fifth innings. Miesle, Corrigan, Rashid and Heline all scored to make the score 6-1. In the fifth, freshman second baseman Maureen Healy singled to knock in Rashid. Healy scored on Davison’s double after she stole second. Healy now leads the team in stolen bases with three. The Belles brought the score to 9-1 later in the inning when Miesle doubled and ran in Davison.

The Comets attempted to score in the fifth to stop the slaughter rule from taking effect but they had little chance against the Belles’ defense. Peterson made a spectacular dive to catch a foul ball but just missed. The miss didn’t matter as Amram struck out three batters and gave up only one hit to end the game 9-1 in five innings.

Sullivan said the change in the team’s attitude on the field came from their past performances.

“[The team feels] very good obviously,” she said. “It was a good confidence boost. We came back against Goshen [April 19] so strong that it carried into today.”

The Belles will next face MIAA rival Albion (10-20, 3-9 MIAA) Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Gainey Field.