Belles reach MIAA postseason tournament behind Morgan Raymer’s arm
R.J. Stempak | Friday, May 13, 2016
Saint Mary’s ended its regular season with a winning record and finished fourth in the conference before falling to Alma and Trine in the postseason to close out its year.
The Belles (19-18, 9-7 MIAA) worked their way to a second-straight appearance in the MIAA tournament and the eighth appearance for the program since 2004. Saint Mary’s highlighted its schedule with a win over nationally-ranked Alma and a sweep of Kalamazoo at the end of the season to clinch a spot in the postseason.
The Belles were a strong offensive team this season, outscoring opponents 209-153 over the course of the year and posting an undefeated 7-0 record when scoring more than 10 runs in a game.
“Overall, we got stronger as the season went on,” Belles head coach Kelli Zache said. “We met our expectations from the beginning of the year, which was to go to the [MIAA] tournament. Offensively, I feel like we kicked [butt] this season. We were second in the conference overall in batting average. We had eight players throughout the season who had over a .300 batting average, which is not common.”
Saint Mary’s was lead offensively throughout the regular season by sophomore outfielder Cassie Young, who led the team in batting average (.500), RBIs (34) and slugging percentage (.664).
“Cassie was at the top of the conference with her bat this year,” Zache said. “For her to be a sophomore in the 3-4 slot and to handle the pitching she did as a sophomore is phenomenal.”
On the mound, sophomore Morgan Raymer provided the Belles with consistent pitching all year. She earned 10 wins in 15 starts with an ERA of just 2.48.
“Once we got into the middle of the season, Morgan Raymer stepped up as our go-to pitcher,” Zache said. “She threw in and won both games of the doubleheader which clinched us to go to the tournament. She’s stronger than ever right now, and she has been a big and impactful player all season. She thrives in close games and wants the ball in her hand in those situations.”
Saint Mary’s opened the MIAA tournament on May 5 with a game against top-seeded Alma and fell in extra innings, 2-1. The Belles then followed that game up with a 5-0 loss to Trine, bringing an end to their season. It was the 11th consecutive year with a winning record for Saint Mary’s.