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SMC Softball: Belles to play in first league game

Rebecca Slinger | Friday, March 30, 2007

Saint Mary’s will look to continue its five-game winning streak this weekend when the Belles travel to face Alma College Saturday and Manchester College Sunday.Alma (11-7) will be the first MIAA game for the Belles (11-1) this season.Saint Mary’s coach Erin Sullivan said the first league game is very important to the team.”It sets the tone for the rest of our season,” Sullivan said. “It’s against one of the best teams in our conference traditionally … so we want to jump ahead.”The Belles already lead Alma in many of the league standings. Alma has a team batting average of .283 in 20 games while Saint Mary’s is hitting .367 in 12 contests. Senior shortstop Sarah Miesle leads the league in runs scored (20), and sophomore catcher Ashley Fusaro is fourth in the league with 14 runs.Alma has played nearly twice as many games as the Belles this season, but Sullivan believes her squad will not struggle. She said playing the first conference game away will actually help the Belles.”You have less pressure when you’re away,” she said. “When you’re home you’re supposed to win.”Sunday, the Belles will face off against Manchester (5-5) of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Last Sunday, the Belles swept HCAC second-place Rose-Hulman in a double header, winning 10-1 and 5-0.Manchester has consistent hitting – seven of its players are batting .300 or above – so the Belles will look to their tough pitching duo, sophomores Calli Davison and Kristin Amram, to stay consistent with their past performances this season. The Belles have a total ERA of 1.29. Offensively, sluggers such as Miesle, Fusaro and Davison will try to beat Alma (1.66 ERA) and Manchester’s (3.09) strong pitching.”If we play the same game we’ve been playing for the last 12 games, we’re going to be successful,” Sullivan said. “[Alma] always has great pitchers and they always have great hitters. But we’ve played three or four teams already like that and we’ve come out on top.”