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SMC Softball:SMC stays above .500 with win

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Belles maintained a winning record with their much-needed 11-0 win against Franklin Tuesday, but only after dropping the first game of the afternoon’s doubleheader by a score of 9-4.

Saint Mary’s (12-11, 1-5 MIAA) took an early lead in the day’s opener when it plated three runs in the first inning, but surrendered seven runs to Franklin (5-16, 1-6 HCAC) in the second inning. The deficit proved to be too great to overcome, dashing any chances of a sweep.

“In the first game, we went out there with a lot of confidence and we always play, really, to win,” junior infielder Kate Mitchell said. “[After Franklin took the lead], I think we got really down on ourselves and lost our confidence, and that was a big part of why we could not really come back.”

The Belles rebounded, as their powerful bats came alive for the day’s nightcap. Mitchell said the biggest reason for Saint Mary’s double-digit scoring in the day’s finale was its ability to get hits on a consistent basis.

“We just started to string hits together,” she said. “In between games, that is what we talked about — playing the way we usually do, focusing on getting singles and just stringing hits together in order to produce runs, and that is exactly what we did.”

Junior Angela Gillis led the Saint Mary’s offense on the day and also turned in a standout performance at second base, but top honors for the day went to junior Monica Palicki. The pitcher relieved freshman Callie Selner in game one before pitching all five innings of the mercy rule-shortened game two.

“She really stepped up for us, especially in the second game,” Mitchell said of Palicki. “She kind of led the way for us in terms of bringing our confidence back.”

The Belles’ inability to earn the sweep has been a concern for Belles coach Erin Sullivan, who described her team’s weakness as its inability to “play 14 innings in one day.”

However, the Saint Mary’s players have not reverted to panic mode yet, as Mitchell pinpointed her team’s ability to maintain its confidence as key.

“It was a nice turnaround,” she said. “I think we just lost our confidence in our first game. It is a confidence game, so we need to bring our focus on staying confident throughout the whole two games and knowing that we have the talent to wins these games.”

The Belles will have the opportunity to add both victories and confidence as they prepare to host Olivet on Saturday for the first of four consecutive home doubleheaders. With only 10 games remaining before the MIAA tournament, Saint Mary’s enters the season’s final month of play before the playoffs begin.

“I think that we are going to [prepare by] just [doing] what we have been doing with our hitting — practicing our hitting, practicing our fielding and fine tuning the little things, and then [we will] go from there,” Mitchell said.