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SMC Softball

Streaking Belles host Britons

| Thursday, April 16, 2015

Saint Mary’s returns to action Thursday after a chaotic, four-game weekend when it hosts conference rival Albion.

With MIAA play at its midpoint, head coach Kelli Zache has the Belles (18-8, 5-3 MIAA) on a roll, as they have won nine of their last 12 games.

“I think we are making strides as a team,” Zache said. “I believe we are learning from our losses and making the adjustments we need to get better.”

One of the keys to the Belles’ success this year is their pitching depth.

Last season, only two pitchers — Callie Selner and Sarah Burke — saw any action on the hill for Saint Mary’s. Selner has since graduated and Burke, a junior, is currently the ace of the staff.

But Zache, now in her second year in charge of the Belles, currently has a stable of young arms to choose from; freshmen Mary Green, Jessica Alberts and Morgan Raymer have all spent significant time in the circle for Saint Mary’s this year.

“All of my freshmen pitchers have contributed tremendously,” Zache said. “They are all young and they have quite a bit to learn, but without all of them, there’s no way we would have been as successful as what we have been.”

Green has a team-low 2.55 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, including a pair of wins over the weekend en route to receiving Saint Mary’s Athlete of the Week award.

Alberts has posted a 5-1 record in 13 appearances and has controlled the ball well, with just seven walks in 33 2/3 innings of work.

Raymer, whose twin sister Kayla is a utility player on the team, has been a workhorse for the Belles. While she holds just a 3-3 record, she has put in 53 2/3 innings of work, the second most on the team. She leads the Belles with 43 strikeouts and is also dangerous at the plate, hitting .366 with 15 hits and 12 RBIs.

After finishing 2-2 this past weekend, the team’s attention is now on today’s home doubleheader against Albion (4-20, 0-10).

The Britons are barely hitting above the Mendoza line as a team, with a .209 mark on the season. They have hit just three home runs all year and are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak.

If the Belles can avoid the upset in today’s doubleheader, they would reach the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2012 — their last MIAA tournament appearance.

Zache praised her team’s approach ahead of Thursday’s game.

“We always fight until the end of the game even if we have a slow start,” Zache said. “I also like our mental toughness. We are much stronger mentally compared to last year.”

First pitch in this conference doubleheader is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today at Saint Mary’s.

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