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SMC Softball: Belles return home for Hope doubleheader

Casey Karnes | Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Belles return home Wednesday after an inconsistent weekend and hope to get back above .500 when they take on Hope in a doubleheader.

The Belles (10-10, 2-0 MIAA) have been inconsistent this season, often pairing winning streaks with losing streaks.

This past weekend continued that pattern, opening with a dominating pair of games against Albion.

The Belles protected their home field with a 9-4 victory followed by a 21-4 offensive outburst that gave them a five-inning victory via mercy rule. Junior pitcher Callie Selner earned the win in the first game by pitching all seven innings, and freshman pitcher Sarah Burke rode the offense to a win in the second game.

The pitching was backed up by six home runs: one by senior captain and shortstop Emily Sherwood, two by freshman third baseman Kayla Chapman and three by freshman first baseman Jillian Busfield. Senior captain and catcher Morgan Bedan, who also played well with three hits in the second game, said she believes Busfield’s offensive explosion could be a sign of good things to come.

“[Busfield] had a great week. She’s worked very hard to get to where she is; she’s playing a new position, but she’s done very well,” Bedan said. “As long as she continues her hard work, there should be a lot more to come from her.”

The offense wilted in the second doubleheader of the weekend however. The Belles managed only three runs on the road against North Park on Sunday, falling 1-0 and 6-3. Selner took the loss in the first game despite allowing one run, and Bedan said the Belles need to support their pitchers more.

“[Our focus is] being smart and consistent hitters. We need to support our pitchers,” Bedan said. “We need to have better at-bats and be smarter hitters. We did this well on Saturday, but struggled to adjust on Sunday. We need to be more cognizant of our game plan.”

Wednesday will bring the Belles a matchup with another undefeated team in Hope (12-10, 4-0). The Flying Dutch have opened the conference season on a tear, but that will not affect the Belles’ preparation for them, according to Bedan.

“Almost every team in this conference is competitive,” Bedan said. “We know the teams that are traditionally more competitive, but we still have to prepare well for every game. It doesn’t matter if it’s Trine or Kalamazoo.”

With the extra pressure of conference play, the Belles can relax knowing their next few games are at home. So far this season the Belles are a perfect 4-0 at home, with two victories via mercy rule. The Hope games begin a stretch of three straight home doubleheaders. Bedan believes in home field advantage, but also said the Belles can’t get complacent.

“We love playing at home, there’s no question about that,” Bedan said. “It is definitely a much more comfortable atmosphere and we are much more familiar with the field and field conditions. It doesn’t give us an outright advantage over Hope, but it helps.”

Saint Mary’s hosts Hope in a doubleheader at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Contact Casey Karnes at [email protected]