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SMC Softball: Offense silenced as Belles lose four to end year

Casey Karnes | Monday, April 29, 2013

 

The Belles’ season came to an end this weekend after four straight losses to Trine and Alma left them on the outside of the MIAA tournament looking in.

The Belles (19-17, 9-7 MIAA) opened the weekend with a doubleheader against MIAA powerhouse No. 4 Trine (33-3, 16-0), and were no match for the reigning conference champs. The Thunder were kept in check by junior pitcher Callie Selner in game one, but the Belles were unable to get their bats going against Trine senior pitcher Andi Gasco. Gasco was one walk away from a perfect game, giving the Belles their first loss in a no-hitter since 2003. According to Belles coach Erin Sullivan, Saint Mary’s offensive struggles this weekend was due both a poor approach at the plate and great pitching by the opposition.

“It was a combination of both really,” Sullivan said. “We didn’t jump on the good strikes and the pitchers moved the ball really well and kept our hitters guessing.”

While the Belles were able to score in the second game of the doubleheader, freshman pitcher Sarah Burke struggled mightily to contain the Thunder offense. Behind home runs from second baseman Amy Newell and third baseman Rachel Harris, both sophomores, Trine was able to pile up 22 runs against Burke. All the Belles were able to muster was a home run by freshman first baseman Jillian Busfield, her team-leading 11th of the season. Even then, Trine dominated the Belles, 22-2, which was ended by the mercy rule after 5 innings.

Even after the being swept by Trine, the Belles still had a chance to make the tournament with wins against Alma (25-9, 13-3). But their hitting woes continued, and only collected one hit off Scots senior pitcher Louise Rezmer. Senior captain and catcher Morgan Bedan was responsible for the lone hit, a single, in what would be her and co-captain shortstop Emily Sherwood’s final day in a Belles uniform. Even though the season ended without a postseason run, Sullivan had nothing but praise for the veterans.

“They have been an integral part of our program and personally, a great part of my life and my coaching philosophy,” Sullivan said. “They have been fantastic, given so much of themselves, been incredibly selfless, and sacrificed so much to make our team successful.”

Selner was solid in the circle once again, only allowing two runs to the Scots, but took the 2-0 loss due to her unproductive offense. She started the next game as well, pitching all seven innings and allowing six runs with eight strikeouts. The Belles mustered five hits in game two, but were unable to tie them together in order to start a rally. The 6-0 loss tied them with Hope College for the final MIAA tournament spot, and Hope advanced via tiebreaker. Despite the disappointing end to the season, Sullivan does not believe her players wilted under pressure. However, she does plan to use the four game skid as inspiration for next year.

“We talked about this finish being motivation to work hard during the off season,” Sullivan said. “I definitely don’t think there was too much pressure for [the younger players], we just played very seasoned teams and didn’t have the offensive support we are used to.”

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu