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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

SMC SOFTBALL: Belles snap four-game skid

After an agonizing two weeks of losses against a brutal conference schedule of the best the MIAA had to offer - Hope, Kalamazoo, Albion and Calvin - the Belles looked outside their conference Thursday for a victory to lift their confidence.

They snapped their four-game skid by defeating Bethel College 5-4 despite the absence of two regulars.

Freshman Cassie Quaglia and sophomore Armene Gavoor replaced junior co-captain and No. 1 singles Kristen Palombo and sophomore No. 6 singles Mary Beth Pavela, who missed the match due to late Thursday classes that conflicted. Gavoor and Quaglia proved effective replacements in their first official action all year, teaming up for a 9-2 victory in the No. 3 doubles superset against the Pilots.

Quaglia also won her No. 6 singles match with veteran composure. Up 4-1 in the third set, Quaglia lost four straight points to fall behind 5-4, but, unfazed by the sudden momentum swing, she quickly recovered to take the next and final two points for the match.

"Cassie did really well," Palombo said. "She really hung with it. That was really awesome because she's never played that competitive a match before. She didn't let her nerves get to her when she started getting down."

In Palombo's absence, sophomores Caile McDavitt and Caile Mulcahy dominated No. 1 doubles with a 9-0 showing.

Palombo said the long overdue victory - their third in three years against Bethel - was critical for the team as a whole.

"Everyone felt a lot more relieved and felt 'oh, we can do this now,'" she said. "I mean we expected to win because we've always beaten them in the past, but it's definitely nice to know we can win a match again. It was good to get some confidence back in us."

The victory brings the Saint Mary's record to 5-9, and the Belles remain tied for fifth in the conference at 1-4.

This Saturday the Belles will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the second time in one week to take on the Saints of Aquinas College (8-2) in another non-conference match. Saint Mary's has dominated the Saints the past two years winning 8-1 last year and 9-0 in 2003. Both dominated Tri-State University, their only common foe this year, as the Belles won 9-0 and the Saints beat them 8-1.

Still, Palombo holds the same expectations as she did for the match against Bethel, as the three-time defending tournament champions are again looking to their second consecutive non-conference match to steer them back towards a solid tournament showing.

"We're hoping to get some confidence back and get on a good roll going into the (MIAA) tournament next weekend," she said.