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SMC Softball: Belles defeat Calvin in MIAA season opener

Chris Masoud | Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As a rule, winning the league opener is at the top of any collegiate coach’s list of preseason goals. For head coach Erin Sullivan and the Belles, that goal can be checked off the list.

Saint Mary’s (16-2) crushed Calvin in the MIAA season opener, sweeping the Knights in a doubleheader. The Belles opened the day by shutting out Calvin 8-0 in a five-inning slaughter-rule contest, and wrapped up the sweep with a 3-2 victory on the back end.

“It was just really clutch for us,” Sullivan said. “Our goal is to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, and Calvin was a team we’re supposed to beat, which we did in pretty convincing fashion. I know that we’re one of those teams that everyone’s gunning for, but we’re prepared for that.”

Staying true to her form, freshman pitcher Monica Palicki lifted the Belles in their first game by tossing a two-hit shutout against the Knights, her fifth of the season. Senior clean-up hitter Ashley Fusaro led the Belles at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, while shortstop Maureen Healy captained a tight defense.

Healy was recently named conference player of the week for her outstanding performance both at the plate and on the infield.

“We came out, and the hitting was contagious,” Sullivan said. “They just kept stroking the ball, and we just sucked the air out of Calvin.”

Calvin added some drama in the second game by tying the game in the top of the seventh when a deep pop-fly was misplayed in the outfield, allowing two runs to cross the plate.

But as they’ve done all season, the Belles bounced back in the home half of the seventh to execute a textbook comeback. Sophomore Hayley Bojorquez scalded a single to left center to get on base. Katie Rashid followed by executing a sacrifice bunt, moving Bojorquez over to second.

A wild pitch moved Bojorquez to third, and finally senior Cathy Kurczak singled to center to drive home the winning run. Freshman Angela Gillis picked up her ninth win of the season.

Coach Sullivan expressed her satisfaction with the team’s performance in the league opener.

“I was very happy with everything we did,” Sullivan said. “The only thing I want to improve on is our aggressive base running. We need to be smart and aggressive, and we can’t expect our pitchers to always throw shutouts.”