SMC Softball: Belles strive for tournament spot
Matt Unger | Thursday, April 19, 2012
With just six conference games remaining, the Belles look to secure a top-four spot in the standings to qualify for the MIAA tournament when they face Albion this afternoon.
Saint Mary’s (20-10, 5-5 MIAA) is currently tied for fourth place in the standings with Albion (11-21, 4-4) and Calvin.
“We need to win out [in conference games] in order to take our destiny into our own hands,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “If we beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, we’ll be in good shape.”
The Belles look to rebound from a Tuesday doubleheader sweep at the hands of first-place Trine. The Thunder defeated the Belles 7-1 and 6-1, respectively. Early Trine leads victimized the Belles as the Thunder were ahead 6-0 in the fourth innings of both games. Also, the Belles offense could only manage two runs despite 13 combined hits in the two games.
“We left too many runners on base and lacked timely hitting,” Sullivan said. “Trine’s a good team, but a tight strike zone forced each team’s pitchers to throw over the plate, and Trine capitalized on those pitches.”
Saint Mary’s also did not help its own cause by committing a combined six errors in two games while the Thunder only registered one. Belles sophomore pitcher Callie Selner was victimized by three unearned runs in her outing in game one.
“We had a couple of misplayed balls in the gap and some miscommunication,” Sullivan said. “However, we worked out those issues in practice and feel confident going forward.”
Meanwhile, the Britons were recently swept by seventh-place Hope in a doubleheader Sunday, including one game that ended after five innings by mercy rule. Despite their matching conference record with the Belles, they have struggled in non-conference play with just a 7-17 record outside the MIAA.
“Albion is a scrappy team,” Sullivan said. “While they’re not loaded in any one area, they rely on team effort and capitalize on mistakes to win. We need to play our game and be really confident.”
The Britons have struggled offensively, batting just .234 as a team on the season compared to a .306 average for the Belles. Their top pitcher, senior Erin Giannotta, is 9-10 with a 2.85 ERA so far this season.
First pitch for Saint Mary’s and Albion is set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Contact Matt Unger at firstname.lastname@example.org