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Belles set out to impress NCAA selection committee

Anne Loughery | Friday, April 23, 2004

Call it tunnel vision.

The Belles head into Saturday’s invitational at Tri-State University with one primary objective: to impress the NCAA selection committee and win a spot in the NCAA tournament May 11-14.

“It doesn’t matter who’s [at Tri-State], as long as we put up some good numbers,” Stefanie Simmerman said. “Everyone will need to step it up and play better.”

Coach Mark Hamilton described this meet as the last opportunity the Belles have to prove themselves worthy of an NCAA tournament bid. Winning the invitational and overcoming rivals Albion and Manchester would be a notable feat, according to Hamilton.

“We’ve had some good rivalries in the past, but we know what to expect because we played most of them last week. Everyone knows what they have to do,” Hamilton said. “This is our last chance to sway the selection committee.”

Saint Mary’s had an impressive performance at last week’s Hope College Invitational, claiming first place with a collective score of 343. Junior Julia Adams fired the tournament’s best score at 82 and was named medalist.

Hamilton says he expects similar standout performances this weekend, especially from Liz Hanlon and Nicole Bellino. Both seem ready to shine this weekend after solid performances during practice.

“I’m expecting [Hanlon] to post her lowest score ever and [Bellino] should play very well, too. Everything seems to be clicking for them right now,” Hamilton said.

Practices this past week have continued to focus on the short aspect of the Belles’ games, in addition to bunker shots. The team has had a few “disasters in the sand” Hamilton said, and hopes that bunker shots will be anything but problematic during the invitational.

Simmerman anticipates good scores posted across the board, as Tri-State’s course is one of the Belles’ favorite places to compete.

“We love playing there just because we’ve been there so many times. I can go through and tell you where every tree and sand trap is. We know that course like the back of our hands,” Simmerman said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to make things happen.”