Fresh off of a season which saw the team post the program’s longest winning streak and the best start to conference play ever, the Saint Mary’s softball team is eager to continue to raise the bar in 2018. The team has a strong foundation from which to build as the Belles have won at least half of their games in the last 12 consecutive years.
Cassie Young ’18, Jamie Young ’18, Morgan Raymer ’18, and Makenzie Duncan ’18 each garnered All-MIAA honors a season ago and will forge the way forward for the Belles in 2018.
Cassie Young repeated as the MIAA Most Valuable Player in her junior season after leading the conference with a .500 batting average and collecting multiple hits in half of the team’s conference games. Jamie Young earned All-MIAA First Team honors for the second consecutive year after she led the conference in total hits (28) while collecting at least one hit in every MIAA game of the season. Additionally, both Cassie and Jamie Young were named to the All-Central Region list by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association for the second consecutive year.
Raymer was also a First Team selection after being tied for the most league wins in 2017 with nine victories in the circle. The senior pitcher led the team in innings pitched (150.0), earned run average (2.01), wins (15), and strikeouts (107) a season ago. Duncan was an All-MIAA Second Team honoree with a .468 batting average in league play. An outfielder for the Belles, Duncan set the program record for career triples (15) through just three seasons of play.
Kelsey Richards ’18 and Kelsey Keilman ’20 joined their four teammates with batting averages above .300 during the 2017 season as the Belles boasted a collective .331 batting average a year ago. Several additional returners and a handful of newcomers will complement a talented side for the Belles as the program aims for its first MIAA regular season title in 2018.
The Belles open the season against strong competition at a tournament at Transylvania and on their spring break trip to Florida. Six of the team’s opponents during those two events won at least 20 games a season ago. Included in that mix are Transylvania, Millikin, and Benedictine. Transylvania – who is ranked No. 13 in the NFCA Top 25 Preseason Poll – claimed the HCAC regular season and tournament titles in 2017 on their way to an NCAA Super Regional appearance. Millikin won the CCIW season title a year ago, and Benedictine took both the NACC regular season and conference tournament en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Each of those three squads posted over 30 wins in 2017. The challenging early season slate will prepare the Belles for a tough MIAA slate as Trine (No. 6), Hope (receiving votes), and Alma (receiving votes) each collected over 20 wins and earned berths to the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
The Belles have their home opener slated for March 23 against Wheaton, and the team opens conference play on March 31 when they travel to Albion for a doubleheader.