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SMC Softball: Belles falter down the stretch in MIAA play

Chris Michalski | Monday, April 20, 2009

It’s coming down the crunch time in the MIAA, and the Belles aren’t responding well.

After starting the season 22-4 and in prime position for a MIAA playoff berth, the Belles began a six-game losing streak, four against league opponents. This weekend, they lost 4-3 and 12-4 against Adrian, dropping their league record to 6-6 and knocking them out of the playoffs. A day after those heart-breaking losses, the Belles were swept by North Central 9-5 and 14-2 on senior day.

“We just had a bad week. It started Wednesday, it carried over into this weekend,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “We played well, but we just didn’t take advantage when we had runners in scoring position.”

The Belles were forced to play from behind for almost all of the first game against Adrian after giving up four runs in the top of the first inning. They had nothing going until they sparked a rally with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. A pair of errors allowed them to plate three runners, but Bulldogs pitcher Kelly Tomasek eventually shut the door, bringing her record to 19-0.

The second game was similarly close, with the Belles only down 4-2 after three innings. But after the Bulldogs rattled off eight unanswered runs to bring the lead to 12-2, the Belles’ hopes for an MIAA title were all but crushed. The Belles managed to add two runs in the bottom half of the six, but it was not enough to avoid the run rule. With no momentum whatsoever to take into Sunday, the Belles were swept again.

“It was rainy, it was cold, and the team was still depressed. I don’t think it was a lack of effort by any means, I think they were just a little confused,” Sullivan said.

The Belles are now forced to regroup and overcome the shock of falling in the standings so quickly. They will have one more chance to end the season on a high note as they travel to Angola, Ind. to face off against divisional foe Trine University. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.