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SMC Softball: Burke leads Belles to win

Casey Karnes | Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Belles’ return to conference play on Tuesday produced mixed results, as they split their doubleheader with Calvin, losing 8-2 ,before prevailing 3-2 in the second game.

The Knights (12-10, 3-5 MIAA) overwhelmed usually stalwart junior Belles pitcher Callie Selner in game one. Calvin junior pitcher Lina Avila created some breathing room in the circle by hitting a two-run home run in the first inning. She ended up 3-for-4 at the plate, and only allowed the Belles two hits from the mound.

The only players with hits for the Belles were freshman first baseman Jillian Busfield and Selner. Busfield hit a team-leading seventh home run to drive in the Belles’ only runs of the 8-2 loss.

One bright spot in game one for the Belles (13-11, 3-1) was the  pitchers’ successful containment of Calvin junior third baseman Janelle Agren, the MIAA player of the week. She went 1-for-3 in game one before freshman pitcher Sarah Burke held her hitless in game two. Belles coach Erin Sullivan complimented the freshman’s cool performance and the way her teammates backed her up.

“Burke had excellent run support [behind her],” Sullivan said. “She was able to move the ball well and set up hitters for easy outs.”

At the start of game two, it didn’t look like Burke would have a successful outing, as Avila led off the second inning with a home run for the Knights. Burke rebounded, but Calvin retained a 2-0 lead as late as the top of the fifth, and it seemed Burke’s strong performance in the circle would be for naught.

Sullivan said the Belles’ game plan is always to take advantage of opponents’ errors, and which the team tried to do when they rallied in the fifthafter freshman outfielder Sarah Callis reached on an error, and then scored. Senior shortstop and captain Emily Sherwood gave the Belles the 3-2 lead with a go ahead two-run single.

After a gutsy performance, Sullivan said she isn’t worried about her team as it heads further into the grind of conference play and rescheduled games.

“The only thing I am concerned about is missed class time nearing the end of the semester,” Sullivan said. “I believe we are strong enough both physically and mentally to play several days in a row.”

The Belles will next play Thursday at home against Kalamazoo at 3:30 p.m.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu