Softball Season Recap
After missing out on the MIAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons, the Saint Mary’s softball team regained the rest of the conference’s attention with a fourth place finish in league standings while earning their first MIAA Tournament victory since the 2006 season. Moreover, it was the tenth consecutive season the Belles have won at least half of their games.
The team opened up the season by participating in the Spring Games in Clermont, Florida for the first time since the inception of the event in 2008. The Belles posted a solid 8-2 record for the week, which included a 5-1 win over a Heidelberg squad which would end up winning their conference and make the NCAA Tournament in May.
After returning to the cold northern climate, the Belles bounced back from a tough doubleheader against Wheaton by handing then No. 11 ranked North Central their first defeat of the season in a 6-4 game one final in March.
A few short days later, the Belles picked up their first MIAA win in their first conference game of the season with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Adrian in eight innings. The team nearly claimed a sweep of the Bulldogs on the road, but the second comeback effort was stopped short as daylight faded.
The team responded by rattling off seven consecutive wins, which included sweeps of Defiance, Calvin, and North Park, to push their overall record to 17-6. That seven game winning streak was the longest since a streak of the same length in the 2012 season. The winning streak was halted by a late-inning loss to Olivet, but again the Belles came up with a response in their next game.
The team used a three-run third inning in game one at Alma to go up 4-2 before holding off the Scots for a key 7-5 win. The team added four more conference wins in the final two weeks of the regular season with home doubleheader sweeps of Albion and Kalamazoo.
The nine conference wins proved to be enough for the team to earn the fourth and final spot in the MIAA Tournament as the Belles made their first appearance in the event since the 2012 season. The squad made their presence known in the double elimination tournament. In their opening game, the Belles were one out away from sending top-seeded and top-ten nationally ranked Trine into the loser’s bracket. The Thunder rallied late and held off the upset-minded Belles in nine innings in an 8-7 final.
Turning right around and playing in an elimination game, the Belles got on the scoreboard early against 20th ranked Hope. The team posted seven runs for the second consecutive game and eliminated the Flying Dutch by a 7-3 final to stay alive in the tournament.
The season, however, came to a close in the opening game of day two of the tournament as the Belles fell to host Trine to end the year with a 23-14 overall record. During the spring, the team posted wins over eventual NCAA Tournament participants Heidelberg, North Central, Alma, and Hope.
The Belles had all sorts of offensive and defensive production from newcomers and returners alike in 2015. Cassie and Jamie Young started in each of the team’s 37 games of the year and were among the top Belles in batting average, total hits, runs scored, on-base percentage, and stolen bases. Fellow freshman Makenzie Duncan made an appearance in each game, was first on the team with 13 doubles, and was third among all players with a .360 batting average.
Sarah Callis, Jillian Busfield, and Morgan Raymer all posted above a .300 batting average during the 2015 campaign. Callis improved her batting average from a year ago by more than .110 while also more than doubling her hits, runs scored, and RBIs from her sophomore season. Busfield moved into sole possession of the program’s career home run record with seven homers to increase her total to 24. Raymer, meanwhile, led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts in the circle while hitting .301 on the year.
Complementing Raymer’s pitching efforts was a group of four other players who saw action this spring. Sarah Burke posted a team-best eight wins with 14 starts, four complete games, and over 40 strikeouts. Mary Green, Jessica Alberts, and Raymer each added five wins, and Emily Najacht made seven appearances on the season. The duos of Alberts and Burke along with Raymer and Najacht each tallied a combined no-hitter for the Belles.
At the conclusion of the season, it was announced that Cassie Young, Jamie Young, and Jillian Busfield had all been named to the All-MIAA Second Team for their efforts. For Busfield, it was the third All-MIAA honor in her career.