SMC teams finish up regular seasons against conference opponents
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, April 28, 2017
Saint Mary’s struggled down the stretch in conference play, with three losses in its final four MIAA games putting a regular season title out of reach. But a top-two finish remains a possibility if other results go the Belles’ way.
The Belles (21-13, 12-4 MIAA) played two games at No. 6 Trine (28-6, 9-5) on April 21, but the Thunder played more like the team who had dominated out-of-conference play and earned a higher ranking than the one that had struggled in conference play. Although the Belles opened the scoring in the top of the fourth in the first game after three hitless innings for each team, a five-run response in the bottom of the same inning put the Thunder in control, and after four more runs in the sixth, Trine emerged victorious 9-1.
The Belles fell into an early hole in the second game, trailing 4-0 after the first inning on the way to a 14-5 defeat.
On Senior Day, the Belles split the series with Hope. In a low-scoring first game, a single in the seventh inning sent a pinch runner home from second to win the game for the Flying Dutch. The Belles fell 3-0 behind in the second game, but tied the score before a four-run seventh inning helped them to an 8-6 win. Junior outfielder Cassie Young went 3-for-3. The game ended the MIAA season for the Belles at 12-4. With 12-1 Alma and 11-3 Hope (23-11, 11-3) still to play a two-game series, the Belles are guaranteed to finish behind one of the two.
The Belles followed the MIAA season with two games at Elmhurst. In the opener, the Belles took a 5-0 lead through two innings on their way to a 6-3 victory, while in the second each team scored two runs in the seventh inning as the Blue Jays won a close encounter 5-4.
The Belles have one last game before MIAA tournament play. They will meet North Park on the road Friday at 3 p.m.
MIAA success for Saint Mary’s continued, as the Belles moved to 5-1 with an 8-6 comeback victory over Kalamazoo on Senior Day.
The Belles (9-6, 5-1) struggled early, giving up a goal in just over thirty seconds, followed by another inside the first two minutes and trailed 3-0 after less than seven minutes. However, after a quick flurry of goals from both teams, the Belles tied the game up at 6-6 before halftime.
Much like the first half, the Hornets (4-10, 4-4) began the second with a quick goal, and followed up with another after five minutes of second-half play. However, again the Belles fought back and took their first lead of the game thanks to junior midfielder Clare Theisen’s 100th career goal with 13 minutes left before adding another to finish as 10-8 winners.
Sophomore midfielder Kate Kelly led the Saint Mary’s offensive charge, recording four goals and two assists.
The Belles’ unbeaten start to MIAA play came to an end, as Saint Mary’s dropped three matches against conference opponents.
The Belles (9-11, 4-3) met Kalamazoo, and after losing the doubles 2-1, with sophomore Monica Davy and senior Sam Setterblad recording the win, they could only take one match in the singles, with Setterblad again getting the victory.
The Belles were then swept by No. 21 Hope. In the doubles, the Belles lost 8-2, 8-3 and 8-4, and things did not improve for singles play. Facing two top-10-ranked singles opponents, no Belles singles player could earn a set or stay within one break, as the six players won only nine games between twelve sets. Junior Maddie Minaudo played the closest match at 6-2, 6-1.
Against Calvin, the Belles got the better of the doubles encounters, winning two out of three, including a 9-7 victory for Davy and Setterblad. However, sophomore Elizabeth Preister was the only player to win a singles match, as Calvin (12-6, 6-1) came back to win 6-3.
The Belles will meet Alma on Saturday at 1 p.m. in their final regular season game.