After earning its third-ever conference sweep against Stetson, the Belmont softball team has finally found momentum to build on in the second half of the season to try to reach the Atlantic Sun playoffs.
The Bruins, with five runs from back-to-back home runs in one game and a walk-off single in the other, defeated the Hatters April 6 in their first conference sweep since 2009.
“The biggest thing about the Stetson series … is we executed at a high level in all three phases of the game: pitching, hitting, and defense,” head coach Chris Kuhlmeyer said. “Our pitching staff did a tremendous job holding down a very good hitting Stetson ball club, and our offense did a great job of executing the short game and making consistent solid contact with the ball.”
He said he thinks the sweep proved that the team could play at a high level, allowing them to compete with anyone in the conference.
“We need kind of all around performance every inning of every game the rest of the way out if we are to compete for a spot in the A-Sun tournament,” Kuhlmeyer said.
Pitcher Mia Vierra also earned the honor of Atlantic Sun player of the week that week from two wins as pitcher plus a grand slam and a walk-off hit from the plate during the weekend sweep. The sophomore showed that she could become a team leader not only for this season, but also looking forward to next year, said Kuhlmeyer.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Mia, and being named player of the week was a very deserving honor,” he said. “She had a weekend to remember and [we] need her to keep that kind of performance up in the circle and at the plate each game here on out.”
While the team’s primary goal is to reach the Atlantic Sun playoffs in Spartanburg, S.C., the road to get there will not get any easier for the Bruins. The team is 3-5 in conference play and 8-27 on the season and will face conference heavyweights Mercer and Kennesaw State on the road later in April.
“This conference is a dogfight every game, and getting victories on the road is tough,” Kuhlmeyer said.
The Bruins will host Lipscomb, ETSU and USC Upstate in what could be a highly contested race to the playoffs.
“Everyone in this conference is more than capable of getting to the A-Sun tournament and do well, and there will be several quality teams who will just miss out,” Kuhlmeyer said. “We have got to take the remaining games at home and on the road one at a time, get as many victories as we can in the remaining 10 conference contests.”