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Belles come home for first series

Bobby Griffin | Friday, March 19, 2004

Coming off a solid spring break trip, Saint Mary’s will look to win its first home game of the season today, when they host Goshen College. The matchup with Goshen will be the Belles’ first of four non-league games before they begin conference play against defending MIAA champion Alma March 28. “We are looking forward to playing Goshen tomorrow, because last year we dropped a doubleheader to them, and we played very poorly,” Belles coach Anna Welsh said.Following today’s game, the Belles visit Rose-Hulman, St. Mary of the Woods and Purdue-North Centra.Saint Mary’s played well on its four-day trip to Fort Myers, Fla., going 5-2 before dropping their final two games to Ursinus College (Pa.) and Webster (Mo.). In their five wins, they outscored opponents 31-9 and had two shutouts in the process. “Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of our spring trip. Each game we were able to turn into a learning experience, both positive and negative,” Welsh said. “If we can improve on the things that we didn’t do as well and keep hitting like we did for the most part we are going to have a successful season.”The Belles are coming off a 15-17-1 record last year, where they finished sixth in the MIAA, going 4-8. The team is young this year, returning just four seniors. The rest are freshmen and sophomores.Returning for the Belles on offense are seniors Marnie Welsh and Katrina Tebbe. Walsh batted .301 with three home runs and 13 RBI’s in 21 games last season. Tebbe, who batted .276 and started all 19 games she played in, will look to improve upon her statistics in order to solidify the team’s chances in the MIAA.Possibly most important to the success of the Belles this season will be the continued development of sophomore pitcher Bridget Grall. As a freshman, Grall started seven games and finished the season with an impressive 2.76 ERA. Her 42 1/3 innings were second on the team only to Libby Wilhelmly, and her 25 strikeouts to only seven walks was best on the team. Grall also batted .284 in 67 at-bats. Her 19 hits were second on the team to Welsh. These impressive statistics led to her selection as all-MIAA second- team in her first collegiate season.Wilhelmly led the Belles last year in innings, strikeouts and wins and was 4-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 56 2/3 innings.Welsh is optimistic heading into this season, but said the Belles need more offensive to be victorious.”It’s hard to expect a pitcher to hold teams scoreless when we don’t produce offensively. That is something we are really going to focus on for [Goshen] and the rest of the games,” Welsh said. “If we can put seven innings together offensively and defensively, then we will be hard to beat.”Today’s first pitch between Saint Mary’s and Goshen will be at 3 p.m. “It will be great to finally be on our home field,” Welsh said.