SMC vs. Kalamazoo
Palicki Leads the Way as Belles Sweep Hornets
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Monica Palicki's birthday will likely be a memorable one as the junior pitcher matched an NCAA Division III record and earned a pair of wins as the Saint Mary's softball team swept Kalamazoo by 21-0 and 6-4 scores on Saturday.
In game one, Palicki hit a pair of three-run home runs in the third inning. The first and second home runs of her career, she matches eight other players in Division III history who have hit two home runs in the same inning.
Before hitting the pair of home runs, Palicki helped the Belles get out of a pair of binds in the first and second innings. The junior came into the game in relief of Callie Selner in the top of the first inning with bases loaded and one out. The first batter Palicki faced hit a soft line drive straight to Kate Mitchell at first base, who then doubled off the Kalamazoo runner to end the inning. In the top of the second, the Hornets threatened again with bases loaded before Palicki forced Kalamazoo into a ground out to end the inning.
That second inning is when the offense began to explode for the Belles. Saint Mary's sent 13 batters to the dish in the second frame, and each hitter in the line up collected at least one hit as the Belles plated eight runs on ten hits. Morgan Bedan had two hits, a double and a single, in the second inning to help lead the way.
The offense continued to post runs on the scoreboard as Saint Mary's scored a season-high 12 runs in the third inning. Out-performing themselves from the previous inning, 16 batters stepped up to the plate in the third inning. Palicki's pair of home runs highlighted the nine-hit, 12-run inning for the Belles, putting the game well out of reach.
Palicki's own offensive output was more than enough to help the junior to the pitching win as she went 4.2 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six.
Emily Sherwood and Morgan Bedan both went 4-for-4 from the plate in the opening game. Sherwood had four singles, was hit by a pitch, scored three times, and drove in two. Bedan added a pair of singles, two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored in the win. Palicki and classmate Kristen Nelson were both 3-for-4 from the dish. Palicki had two home runs, a double, scored three times, and drove in a game-high and career-high eight runs. Nelson had two singles, a double, scored three times, and drove in a run. Lauren Enayati, Kelli Spurlock, and Angela Gillis each added two hits for the Belles.
Game two was a much different story than game one for both teams. The Belles got on the scoreboard right away in the top of the first inning. Emily Sherwood singled up the middle, stole second and moved to third as the throw deflected off of her helmet, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hayley Bojorquez.
Saint Mary's added three more runs in the top of the second inning. Angela Gillis and Kate Mitchell drew back-to-back walks to begin the inning, and both moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Kristen Nelson then singled through the right side to plate Gillis. After Nelson stole second, Lauren Enayati drove both Mitchell and Nelson home on a single to right field.
Both teams would have a couple of opportunities to score by getting runners in scoring position, but the score remained 4-0 in favor of the Belles until the bottom of the sixth inning. Kalamazoo led off the inning with a pair of walks and a single to right field to load the bases with no one out. The Hornets then scored their first run of the game when the throw to the plate for the force out got away from the Belles. After a passed ball made the game 4-2, the Hornets drove in a pair of runs on a single and a walk to knot the game at 4-4.
The Belles, however, took little time to break the tie. Bedan drew a lead-off walk, and Gillis singled two batters later to put runners at the corners for Saint Mary's. Mitchell then hit a hard ground ball to the Hornets' shortstop, who tried to start a double play, but Mitchell beat out the throw at first and Bedan scored. Nelson then drew a walk of her own to put runners on first and second. Enayati then delivered with a line drive single to center field, which allowed Mitchell to score from second for the 6-4 advantage.
Palicki shut down the Hornets in the bottom of the seventh, retiring the side in order for her second win of the day. The junior threw all seven innings, striking out five and allowing just two earned runs for her eighth win of the year.
Angela Gillis was 3-for-3 in game two with a run scored to help lead the Belles. Lauren Enayati was 2-for-4 in the night cap with three RBIs.
The Belles (14-11, 3-5 MIAA) have a big week ahead, as they host Hope in a rescheduled contest on Tuesday, Albion on Wednesday, Olivet in a rescheduled contest on Friday, and travel to Calvin on Saturday.