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SMC Softball: Belles take three of four from conference foes

Meredith Kelly | Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Belles held their top-three standing in the MIAA conference after a game-intensive weekend, winning three out of four games against conference foes Adrian and Olivet. 

The Belles (16-12, 6-2 MIAA) kicked off the weekend with two games against Adrian (9-15, 5-5 MIAA) at home Saturday. The Belles won the first game 5-3 in nine innings but lost the second game 9-4. 

“I think we took our win from game one and were kind of expecting to just win the second without the effort,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “We let the game get away from us.”

The Belles took the lead early in game one after junior pitcher Callie Selner singled up the middle in the first inning, bringing home junior center fielder Victoria Connelly. In the bottom of the second, Connelly scored freshman third baseman Kayla Chapman by singling to left field. 

Adrian rallied to tie the Belles in the top of the sixth inning, 3-3, and the Bulldogs kept it there for three more innings. But in the bottom of the ninth inning, senior Morgan Bedan reached second base off a fielding error by the shortstop, bringing Selner to the plate.

Selner had already reached base in her first four at-bats, so Adrian elected to intentionally walk the dangerous junior. But the second pitch of the intentional walk wasn’t far enough from the plate and Selner was able to make contact, blasting a two-run bomb over the fence in right-center to give the Belles a 5-3 walk-off victory. 

In the second game, the Belles started off strong with a run in the first inning. Senior Emily Sherwood reached base off an error by the shortstop, then scored after back-to-back singles by Bedan and Selner. Adrian then countered in the top of the second, scoring three runs on five hits. 

Adrian widened the gap after racking up another three runs in both the third and fourth innings, making the score 9-1. The Belles attempted to stay in the game – scoring another three runs before the final out – but were not able to overcome the Bulldogs’ enormous lead and lost 9-4.

On Sunday, the Belles faced Olivet (9-17, 0-8 MIAA) at home for their Senior Day game, where the Belles honored their two seniors, captains Sherwood and Bedan. 

“Morgan and Emily have done so much for our program,” Sullivan said. “They are dedicated and inspiring teammates. Their play on the field has contributed to so many wins, of course, but their personalities off the field will be missed more.” 

The Belles celebrated their seniors in dominant fashion, sweeping Olivet with a pair of convincing shutouts. The Belles won both games in five innings, with a score of 13-0 in the first game and 11-0 in the second game. 

Selner, Connelly, Sherwood, Bedan, Champman and freshman Jillian Busfield all crossed the plate during the first game, most more than once. Busfield had two home runs, which Sullivan said moved her into a tie for fifth in career home runs in program history – as only a freshman. 

“We had not only amazing hitting, our pitchers were lights out,” Sullivan said. “They gave up only three combined hits in both games.”

Selner earned a win in the circle, allowing just two hits and zero runs. She also earned seven strikeouts in five innings of work. 

In the second game, the Belles continued to work hard and produce runs. During the top of the fourth, the Belles scored eight runs off nine hits. Freshman pitcher Sarah Burke, who started the second game, pitched a gem, allowing just one hit in her complete game shutout. Burke also picked up five strikeouts.

Today, the Belles will face Hope (12-12, 4-2 MIAA) at home in yet another doubleheader. Hope sits at fourth place in the MIAA conference rankings, just one spot behind the Belles. 

Today’s doubleheader against the Flying Dutch will finish out a brutal stretch of the Belles’ schedule – one that has forced them to play six games in three days. Sullivan said she has confidence her team is ready to play, regardless of the potential physical and mental strain of back-to-back games. 

“We are able to just go out and play without thinking too much, which is a good thing, Sullivan said. “Our pitchers are also getting stronger each day, which is a tribute to their mental toughness.”

Sullivan said the team ultimately has its hopes set on qualifying for the MIAA conference championship. Yet because half of their conference games remain to be played this week, Sullivan said it would be tough to predict exactly what her team needs to do to get there. 

“Conservatively, I would say we need to go 4-4 to make it to the tournament,” Sullivan said. 

The Belles and Flying Dutch will square off today at Saint Mary’s. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Contact Meredith Kelly at mkelly26@nd.edu