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SMC Softball

Belles host Adrian in first conference tilt

| Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saint Mary’s will be coming off a week-long break when it takes on Adrian on Tuesday in its first conference game of the season so far, hoping to make the MIAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.

After starting the season on a strong note, coming home from their spring break trip with an 8-3 record, the Belles (10-9, 0-0 MIAA) have struggled to maintain their initially strong level of play, winning just two more games since. The Belles appear to be improving, however, as their two most recent wins have been decisive ones, a 10-2 victory over North Central on March 26 and a 9-0 shutout versus Manchester on March 28.

Multiple players have shone for the Belles throughout the season. Sophomore outfielder Cassie Young has proven to be an offensive leader, leading the team with her .532 batting average, 33 hits, 23 RBIs and six doubles. Young was also named the MIAA Player of the Week on Sunday. On the team, the South Bend native is closely followed in all categories by sophomore outfielder Makenzie Duncan. Duncan boasts a .444 batting average, 28 hits, 19 RBIs and five doubles. She also leads the team with five triples on the year, two home runs and a .778 slugging percentage.

As the upcoming game against the Bulldogs (4-9, 0-2 MIAA) will be the Belles’ first conference game of the season, they will begin their quest to make the MIAA tournament. The top four teams in the MIAA make the tournament each season.

Though none of the Bulldogs are batting for as high an average as Young, Adrian has some threats of its own. Senior outfielder Jessica Sarch leads the Bulldogs, batting .319 with 15 hits. Senior catcher Morgan Brandt also bats .300 and leads the team with one home run and four walks.

On the mound for Adrian, senior Kelsey Meyer paces the Bulldogs with three wins in eight appearances with 41.2 innings pitched. The right-hander has a 3.36 ERA and totals 19 strikeouts on the year.

The Bulldogs are coming off a two game losing streak, after being swept by Trine in their first conference series of the season. The Belles have had mixed results against the Bulldogs in the past, splitting their regular season double-headers in each of the past three seasons. However, the games in 2015 provided significant excitement, as both games went to extra innings. The Belles ended up taking the first game, 5-4, in eight innings but fell later in the day, 9-5.

Saint Mary’s will be at home for the upcoming doubleheader. The Belles have struggled at home this season and look to improve their 1-3 record when they are playing in their own territory, although their lone win at home was one of their strongest showings of the season against North Central.

The anticipation for the Belles’ first MIAA game of the year is heightened by the fact that both teams are looking for their first conference win of the season. The Belles are hoping to maintain a winning record, while the matchup against Saint Mary’s is the only MIAA game of the week for the Bulldogs.

Saint Mary’s will face off against Adrian on Tuesday, with the first game of the double-header beginning at 3:30 p.m.

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