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SMC Softball: Belles split doubleheader, earn spot in tournament

Matt Unger | Monday, April 30, 2012

Entering Senior Day on Sunday, the Belles knew they needed at least a doubleheader split against second-place Alma to earn a spot in the top four of the MIAA and qualify for the conference tournament. They did just that with a dramatic, come-from-behind 2-1 win in the first game before dropping the second game, 1-0, in eight innings.

With the split, the Belles (27-11, 10-6 MIAA) qualified for the MIAA tournament for the first time since 2010 and tied a program record for regular season wins, previously set in 2006. Adding to the challenge of making the tournament is the difficulty of the nine-team MIAA, in which four teams are ranked in the top-eight in the NCAA Midwest Region.

“It was tough going into Senior Day with a top-four spot in the conference in the line,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “I asked our girls to keep it together and at least win one of two. To do it in the first game was fantastic, and to reach the conference tournament is a privilege for us.”

The Belles trailed the Scots (25-11, 11-5) 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh against Alma junior pitcher Louise Rezmer. Their rally started when Belles senior second baseman Angela Gillis reached base on a fielding error by the Alma second baseman. Freshman first baseman Jordie Wasserman lined a single to left to put runners on first and second with none out.

However, two of the next three batters struck out, leaving the Belles down to their final out with the bases loaded and senior center fielder Lauren Enayati at the plate. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Enayati lofted a ball over the pitcher and in front of second base for an infield RBI single.

With the game tied at one, freshman right fielder Victoria Connelly sent a sharp ground ball to third baseman Lea Lusk, who tried to fire home for the force-out. However, her throw was high and wide, and Wasserman scored the game-winning run.

“The throw was errant, and the catcher wasn’t expecting a play at the plate with two out,” Sullivan said. “But our two slap hitters came through in the clutch for us.”

Sophomore pitcher Callie Selner (17-7) earned the win, as she held the Scots to just one run on six hits in seven innings. Selner struck out six batters and allowed her only run on an RBI double in the third.

“Callie was incredible today, and it was the best I’ve seen her throw all year,” Sullivan said. “She kept hitters off-balance, and did a tremendous job of locating her pitches. If she pitches like that in the tournament, we have a good shot to win.”

In the second game, the Belles offense was limited to just three hits by Rezmer, who struck out 17 batters over the course of the two games. Selner, however, matched her as both pitchers had shutouts through the seventh inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Alma put runners on first and third with one out. Scots senior first baseman Emily Ross executed a suicide squeeze bunt for the game-winning run.

With the regular season concluded, the Belles will next play in the conference tournament May 3 at Trine, which finished first in the MIAA standings. The tournament is double-elimination, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Contact Matt Unger at munger3@nd.edu