Softball Season Recap
- The Belles won at least half of their games for the twelfth consecutive season, and the team made their ninth appearance in the top-four MIAA Tournament.
- Cassie Young was named MIAA Most Valuable Player as she, Jamie Young, Morgan Raymer, and Makenzie Duncan were All-MIAA selections.
- Both Youngs were tabbed All-Region by the NFCA for the second consecutive season.
The Saint Mary’s softball team continued to raise the bar in 2017 as the Belles continue to set their sights higher each year. A twelve-game winning streak – the longest in program history – and the best start to conference play ever for the Belles helped propel the team into their ninth MIAA Tournament while also laying the groundwork for another winning season.
The season opened with success against strong competition in the Spring Games in Florida. The Belles went 2-0 to open the year with their first victory of the season coming in a 5-0 decision against a Manhattanville team who went on to the NCAA Tournament and won over 30 games in 2017. Two days later, Saint Mary’s shut out another NCAA Tournament participant with a 10-0 (5 innings) decision over UMass Boston. Despite holding a 4-6 record at the end of the week, the Belles put up some of their best performances of the trip against the strongest competition.
After returning to the Midwest, the Belles split doubleheader tilts with both Aurora and Wheaton as each game was decided by less than three runs. The team responded in a big way after those splits by rattling off the longest winning streak in program history. The Belles claimed six consecutive doubleheader sweeps by defeating Manchester, Olivet, Kalamazoo, Calvin, Albion, and Adrian. That 12-game winning streak also featured a 40-inning shutout streak which spanned from game two at Olivet through game one against Albion. With a 10-0 mark through their first five conference doubleheaders, the Belles nearly had a trip to the MIAA Tournament secured before Tax Day.
A split against eventual MIAA Tournament champion Alma preceded a pair of rain-delayed losses on the road at Trine. The Belles bounced back with a split against MIAA regular season champion Hope to finish third in the league standings while matching the most conference wins in a season (12) for the program. The regular season saw Saint Mary’s win three of four games in non-conference doubleheaders at Elmhurst and North Park.
After a 5-1 setback against second-seeded Alma in the opening game of the MIAA Tournament, the Belles eliminated top-seeded host Hope in a decisive 7-1 victory to stay alive. The Belles’ season, however, was stopped short on day two in an elimination game loss to a Trine team which would go on to the Division III Women’s College World Series.
In 39 games during the year, the Belles were shut out just three times while holding their opponents scoreless on 11 occasions. Saint Mary’s was among the top 30 Division III programs in total shutouts and fielding percentage in 2017. Additionally, the team was in the top 100 of more than 400 programs in batting average, ERA, triples per game, and on-base percentage.
Cassie Young, Jamie Young, Morgan Raymer, and Makenzie Duncan all earned All-MIAA recognition from league coaches after the completion of the regular season. Cassie Young was named MIAA Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. A First Team honoree and two-time MIAA Player of the week, she led the conference in batting average with a .500 average. Jamie Young earned her second consecutive nod on the First Team, and Raymer, a two-time MIAA Pitcher of the Week in 2017, picked up First Team All-MIAA honors for the first time in her career after being a Second Team selection last season. Duncan picked up her first all-conference honor of her collegiate career after being named Second Team All-MIAA.
A few weeks later, both Cassie and Jamie Young were named to the All-Central Region list by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Cassie was one of 15 student-athletes to earn All-Region First Team honors while Jamie was one of 15 selections for the All-Region Third Team. It marked just the fourth time since 2008 that multiple members of the Saint Mary's softball team have been recognized with All-Region accolades by the NFCA.