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SMC Softball: Belles host doubleheader

Casey Karnes | Friday, April 19, 2013

Saint Mary’s heads into the stretch run of their season as it battles Adrian and Olivet in doubleheaders this weekend.

The Belles (13-11, 3-1 MIAA) were supposed to host Kalamazoo on Thursday night. That game, however, was rained out and rescheduled for next Thursday, giving the Belles an extra day to prep for their games this weekend. 

Both series are against conference foes, and the Belles are hoping to continue their success in the MIAA. Their only conference loss thus far was an 8-2 defeat against Calvin on Tuesday that was immediately offset by a 3-2 victory in the second game of the double header. 

Freshman pitcher Sarah Burke excelled in game two, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Belles coach Erin Sullivan said she has been impressed with the freshman all season.

“[Burke] has developed well as a pitcher for us,” Sullivan said. “She knew coming in that she was one of only two pitchers on the staff, … but with that spot brings the pressure to perform. I am very impressed with her success this year and see her only getting better in future years.”

Freshman first baseman Jillian Busfield also impressed Tuesday. She knocked in her team-leading seventh home run of the season, and her power makes scoring a lot easier for the Belles, according to Sullivan.

“[Busfield] has been very impressive this year. She is such a physically strong hitter that when she gets a piece of the ball, she typically hits it hard,” Sullivan said. “Her homeruns are not only a result of her strength, but also a result of her intelligence when hitting.”

The Belles will need more scoring this weekend when they go against Adrian (8-14, 4-4) on Saturday. While the Bulldogs have struggled this season, they have been more successful in conference and are on a two-game win streak. 

The Belles have also had trouble on the road this season, so Sullivan wants her hitters to come out aggressive, even if her players may be feeling the strain of the season wearing on them.

“Typically, we like to be aggressive,” Sullivan said. “Fatigue at this point of the season is always a concern, but … I feel confident our team is tough enough to get through a lot of games in a short period of time.”

Sunday’s game against Olivet (9-15, 2-8) will double as Senior Day for the Belles, as well as a chance to build on their undefeated record at home this season. A huge part of that success is due to the play and captaincy of the only two seniors on the roster, catcher Morgan Bedan and shortstop Emily Sherwood. After four years of coaching the veterans, Sullivan couldn’t say enough about her captains as they approached the end of their college careers.

“I think Morgan and Emily have done a wonderful job. With a team of 10 freshmen, it can be tough to convey the culture of the program, and [they] are very concerned that the success of the team … is preserved following their departure,” Sullivan said. “They have spent countless hours working to be better leaders, setting a positive tone and teaching the younger players.”

The Belles will face the Bulldogs at 1 p.m. Saturday at Adrian College, then return to Saint Mary’s for the Senior Day game against the Comets at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu