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SMC Softball

Belles set to enter season under new coach

| Monday, March 3, 2014

After finishing last season with its eighth consecutive winning season, Saint Mary’s looks to make some noise this season with eight sophomores leading the team towards the goal of winning its first MIAA championship.

Irish sophomore infielder Jillian Busfield plays defense during Saint Mary's doubleheader against Definace on March 28 last season. Joseph Monardo | The Observer

Irish sophomore infielder Jillian Busfield plays defense during Saint Mary’s doubleheader against Definace on March 28 last season.

In addition to having a young team with a strong outlook, the Belles also acquired former Western Michigan and Bethel College pitcher Kelli Zache as their new head coach. Zache said she is looking to help improve the Belles’ already strong pitching.

“I heard somewhere that softball is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” Zache said. “I believe that having a strong mentality is a very crucial part of the game. I hope to strengthen their mentality [and] confidence and teach them how to have a game plan. All are very important aspects to being a successful pitcher.”

Zache said she hopes to develop the Belles’ ace to an even higher level of pitching. Callie Selner, the only senior on this year’s team, owned a 2.10 ERA in 23 appearances last season. She led the team in strikeouts with 122 and had two shutouts to wrap up a solid season of pitching.

Not only was Selner the Belles’ top pitcher, but she was also a top contributor batting last season. She compiled a .429 batting average and 34 RBI, which both led the team, and her success pitching and batting earned her an All-MIAA selection.

“Callie is a great pitcher and leader,” Zache said. “She has stepped up in many ways, and she has worked very hard to get in top pitching shape for our spring break trip and season. She has great knowledge of the game and shares that with her teammates. I anticipate her to have a great season this year.”

In addition to Selner, the Belles have another All-MIAA selection in Jillian Busfield. As a freshman, Busfield hit 11 home runs, which ranked third in the MIAA last season and first in home runs in a single season in program history.

Along with seven other sophomores,  Zache said she will look for Busfield to make the Belles’ season one of the more successful seasons in team history.

“We had a very young team last year that included 10 freshmen,” Zache said. “Though we are still very young, this year the sophomore class is really stepping up after having a season under their belt. I think the team is more confident as a whole in the work they have put and are ready to prove themselves this year.”

The Belles will travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to compete in 10 games at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, beginning with a matchup against Drew on Sunday.

Contact Manny De Jesus at mdejesus@nd.edu

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

Contact Manuel