Bellamy, Hunters look to make some noise in playoffs
As a three-year starter for the Denfeld Hunters softball team, Laura Bellamy has done whatever it takes to make her team successful. Last year, she played second base and the year before that she played catcher. This year, she has turned into the...
As a three-year starter for the Denfeld Hunters softball team, Laura Bellamy has done whatever it takes to make her team successful. Last year, she played second base and the year before that she played catcher. This year, she has turned into the Hunters go-to pitcher by starting every game and pitching all but two innings through the Hunters' first 19 games. But the most amazing thing of all is that Bellamy is only a freshman.
Bellamy, who has been on the varsity team since seventh grade, is averaging one strikeout per inning pitched this season. Bellamy strongly believes that this team will be good for years to come. "We only had six wins last year and we already have more than that already this season," said Bellamy. "Our 7-12 record this year isn't great, but it's better than last year, and that's what matters. We will only be losing one player coming into next season. It's a pretty exciting time to be a part of this team."
While pitching is Bellamy's main focus, she is also finding success as a hitter this season. She currently leads the team with a .400 batting average and is also the team leader in every other offensive category except for runs batted in and stolen bases.
Head coach Richard Swanson has been coaching girls' softball for many years. He got his start coaching at Central before moving to Denfeld in 1988. He was the head coach until 1999, before taking a few years off and returning in 2003. He was the head coach of the 1990 team that took fourth in the state.
Swanson is excited about this group of players. "We have a much better attitude than in years past," Swanson said. "We used to expect to lose, but now we believe that we can beat anybody. We are very young and are very strong up the middle. We play very good defense and have two great catchers. We're looking to gain a little more confidence as the playoffs approach. If we believe we can do it, then we most certainly will."
Swanson, who also teaches American history and psychology, believes that Section 7AAA is wide open this year. "There are no really great teams this year. Sure, Hermantown is always tough and has two or three great players, but there is no team that has run away from the pack yet. Next year, this section will be very competitive."
Bellamy admits that sometimes she is really hard on herself. She wants to be perfect every time she pitches, and she explains that sometimes that gets the best of her. "My pitch selection isn't very good. I definitely have to work on that. I need experience so I can know myself better and improve on the mistakes I make. My pitching has improved, but it can always be better."
Bellamy, who was rookie of the year for the hockey team two years ago, hasn't put much thought into her future as of yet. She still has three years of high school softball yet to play. Having your number one pitcher at your disposal for three more years is something that Swanson is excited about. "Laura can be as good as she wants to be. The sky's the limit for this young lady. The only reason she sometimes struggles is because she's so young. I mean, she's only 14 years old, and sometimes I have to remind myself of that. She's almost too pure in the strike zone. These umpires really don't know her, or how she pitches, yet. She will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come."
The pressure of playing softball and the pressure of the playoffs starting on Tuesday hasn't fazed the Hunters in the classroom. As a team, their grade point average is 3.7. They are obviously a smart group of girls who just might shock a few unsuspecting teams in the playoffs.