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SMC Softball: Offense leads to early success

Deirdre Krasula | Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saint Mary’s hopes to erase the memories of a poor 2005 campaign on the shoulders of its freshmen and seniors, as well as a new head coach.

And early in the season, the team has succeeded.

The team welcomes seven new players, while also returning seven experienced upperclassmen.

Belles first-year coach Elizabeth Sullivan has worked Saint Mary’s into a formidable team. The squad trained hard in the preseason, especially at the plate, and went 7-3 at a five-day tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. during spring break.

“We’ve really worked on our hitting,” Sullivan said. “We want to be a force at the plate. I want teams to worry about throwing us any pitch near the strike zone because we will drive whatever they throw at us.”

Sullivan said the Belles will count on seniors Audrey Gajor, Bridget Grall and Meghan Marenkovic to lead the Belles back to their 2004 MIAA championship form. All three seniors were present when the Belles captured their first ever conference title two years ago.

Grall said the seniors took the responsibility of helping the rest of the squad through the coaching change.

“We took it upon ourselves to make the rest of the team adjusted [to Sullivan],” Grall said.

Sullivan said these three know what it takes to win a tournament championship and will contribute greatly to Saint Mary’s success this season

The freshman class has also contributed to the Belles’ hot start. Freshman pitchers Kristin Amram and Calli Davison threw back-to-back no-hitters on the fourth day of the tournament last week.

“We have a great freshman class,” Grall said. “They blend right in with the team. You really can’t see a class difference any more.”

But perhaps the strongest feature of the freshman class is its versatility. With three players capable of playing two different positions – Martha Smid at both catcher and outfield, Davison at pitcher and outfield and Ashley Fusaro at catcher and third-base – the Belles possess the flexibility to change as Sullivan sees fit.

Davison has thrived at the plate and on the mound, blasting a home run during her no-hitter game.

“What’s so great about this [freshman] group is the variety they bring to our team,” Sullivan said.