SMC Softball: Belles fail to clinch berth
Joe Monardo | Monday, May 2, 2011
With a postseason berth on the line, the Belles won five of their six weekend games but fell just short of earning the final spot in the MIAA tournament.
The Belles’ (20-13, 9-7 MIAA) regular season was defined by streaks and, ultimately, they were unable to overcome the losing streak that consumed a large part of their season. They started the year strong, winning eight of their 10 games over spring break, only to drop nine of their next 13 games before capturing eight of the final 10 decisions.
“We had an awesome start and an awesome finish [to the season],” senior outfielder Hayley Bojorquez said. “It stinks to look back and wonder why we really did go down in the middle of our season. The reason that we finished so strongly this weekend was that our pitching was stellar, our defense was awesome … and our offense was back. In the middle of the season, we were sporadic with those three things … we didn’t have all of them put together.”
Despite their midseason struggles, the Belles entered the final weekend sitting at sixth place in the MIAA rankings, within reach of the fourth spot necessary to qualify for the conference tournament. Saint Mary’s aimed to close out the season with six wins, but the team came up one win short of completing the weekend sweep.
Only one day after Thursday’s doubleheader against Hope (24-13, 12-4), Saint Mary’s settled for a split on Friday with visiting Olivet (14-21, 4-12). After finding themselves behind midway through the fourth inning, the Belles came to life with four runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth.
The score would remain 4-4 until the top of the eighth inning, when Olivet took the lead with a solo home run. The Belles were unable to match the score in the bottom half of the frame and dropped the opener 5-4 in extra innings, but captured the 12-0 victory in the second game. After failing to take both of Friday’s games, the Belles realized their chances of playing in the postseason were all but lost.
“We knew that we could possibly [qualify], but we knew that our chances weren’t high,” Bojorquez said.
The Belles took to the field once again Saturday, playing this time not for the postseason but for pride, and dispatched of Calvin (6-28, 4-12) 12-1 and 2-1.
To conclude their stretch of four consecutive days of play, Saint Mary’s returned home for senior day Sunday against Albion (17-17, 7-9). The Belles ended the season on a high note when they escaped with a 1-0 victory in game one before dominating the second game by a score of 10-1.
For Bojorquez, the team’s lone senior, the Senior Day victories offered the chance to salvage what was in many ways a disappointing season.
“Our goal today was to finish our season on two wins, to have fun with each other because we knew it would be the last time we’d be this team together. Since we didn’t accomplish our goal of making it into the conference tournament, we wanted to accomplish the goal of getting to 20 wins,” Bojorquez said. “I think we were all really positive today, really in it, just excited to be out there … we just wanted to end on a good note.”
Under current Belles coach Erin Sullivan, Saint Mary’s has registered at least 20 wins in each of the last six seasons. The Belles were able to extend the streak this year despite having only one senior on the team.
“It was really difficult in the beginning [being the only senior], but at the same time the junior class was huge and I looked to them for a lot of help,” Bojorquez said. “Even though I was the only senior and the only captain, I think that there were a lot of other people who stepped up and played that role, and helped me out and helped our team get to where it was at the end.”