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SMC Softball: Team effort leads to eight victories in Florida tournament

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Following a successful week in Fort Myers, Fla., the Belles prepare to host Goshen in a doubleheader for their home opener.

Saint Mary’s (8-2) lost the first and last games of its spring break tournament, but rattled off eight straight wins in between. The schedule, which included 10 games in five days, gave the Belles a chance to showcase their strong team depth and balance.

“The best thing about the week was that everyone was a contributor,” Belles coach Erin Sullivan said. “We didn’t have one person being the star and outshining everyone. Some games, the top of the lineup came through for us, some games the bottom of the lineup came through. It was really great to see that they were all just a very cohesive team.”

The Belles relied heavily on a number of juniors during the tournament — none more than pitcher Monica Palicki, who went 4-1 in five starts. Palicki recorded 10 strikeouts against Curry in the first leg of a doubleheader on day three of the tournament. In the game that immediately followed, freshman pitcher Callie Selner shut down Salem State with 11 strikeouts in her third start of the season. Selner also sits at 4-1 on the season, with her only loss coming in a seven-inning outing in the Belle’s season opener against SUNY-Brockport.

The offensive attack was equally impressive for the Belles during their trip, especially on day two, when Saint Mary’s outscored its two opponents, Kenyon and Mass.-Dartmouth, by a combined score of 24-0. Against Mass.-Dartmouth, junior Lauren Enayati went 3-4 from the plate with a triple, a home run, 5 RBIs, 2 runs and a steal.

While the Belles had no problem at all getting on base, Sullivan said her team needs to focus on its baserunning.

“Our baserunning was a little bit suspect at times,” Sullivan said. “Otherwise, honestly, I was putting together a list of things to work on, and besides that it’s just really minor details. It all looked really good.”

The Belles hope to carry their superb play back to South Bend, with NAIA opponent Goshen (4-5) coming in for a doubleheader. Sullivan feels confident that her team can compete against Goshen.

“They’ve got a lot of good athletes that have come into the program in the last couple of years,” she said. “They are NAIA, so they do offer athletic scholarships, but two of the teams in our conference have beaten them so far, two of the better teams, so to me, we should be able to go in there and take both games.”

Win or lose, the Belles will have to adjust to being back at school, which presents an interesting set of challenges for the student-athletes.

“The only challenge we have is when you come back [from the Spring Break tournament], you are back to real life,” she said. “You have classes, and you are busy again. Spring break has beautiful weather and you don’t have a lot to focus on besides softball, so the only challenge is just to make sure that when we are on the field, we are 100 percent there.”

The first pitch of the Belles’ home schedule is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.