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Experienced Raiders softball ready for new season

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior Kim Allen returns to the pitching circle and will be Belmont’s primary pitcher once again this spring. File Photo. (click for larger version)
April 09, 2012
BELMONT – After a promising end to last season saw the Belmont High School softball team win a road play-in game to reach the main draw of the Division III tournament, the Red Raiders return a solid core of players this spring and hope to continue the momentum of a six-win season a year ago.

Bill Clary takes over as the head coach of the program, though Clary has been an assistant on the staff in years past under Trisha Geoffrey. Geoffrey will remain on the staff as well, with work commitments keeping her from staying as head coach.

Leading the way for Belmont is senior pitcher Kim Allen, who returns for her third year of varsity experience and second as the team's primary pitcher. Allen saw work in the majority of the Red Raiders' games last year, and the right-hander will look to set the tone in the circle this spring.

"She knows she's going to pitch every game this year and she's strong enough and really matured," said Clary of Allen. "She knows the team's going to go as far as she's going to pitch. We're looking for her to cut down on her walks because she knows she has a good defense behind her. She's not a strikeout pitcher so she moves the ball around well and that's going to be key again."

The left side of the Belmont infield will once again be a source of strength for the program, as senior third baseman Britni Spaulding and senior shortstop Sam Phelps are as good as there is defensively in the Lakes Region and will provide key bats in the Red Raider lineup.

"We're lucky with those two girls," said Clary. "Britni's really improved and learned in the last year. And Sam is such an athlete for us at shortstop. She covers more ground than anybody else at that position."

The rest of the infield has a much younger feel, as sophomores Megan Bailey and Mary Kate Russo will start at second and first base, respectively. Russo will have big shoes to fill at first, as graduated senior Courtney Clary was one of the top hitters in the middle of Belmont's order a year ago.

The catching position will be one of the most important spots for the Raiders this spring, as junior Elizabeth Yelle takes over for Shawna Talbot, who graduated last year after being named to the Division III all-state second team.

"I couldn't ask for a harder worker than Elizabeth," said Clary. "She's the hardest worker out there and she takes instruction well. She worked with Shawna last year to get ready because she knew this was her job this year. We don't over coach the game. We rely on the catcher to call the game. Even though it's her first year starting the majority of the games, she's still going to call the game for us. She's a smart girl."

The outfield is paced by seniors Rowan Harris (left field) and Chelsea Lima (right field) and sophomore Alyssa Woods (center field). Clary is excited about what the young Woods can do out there, as she shifted from the infield and has been tracking everything down during preseason.

"We're looking for these seniors to pick up those at bats from the two girls we graduated," said Clary.

After knocking off Raymond on the road in a play-in victory last year, the Raiders fell to rival Gilford High School in a preliminary round game.

"We held our own against Gilford in that game," recalled Clary. "We surprised a lot of teams last year winning six games I think. This year we're not going to be a surprise though. We have to be ready to go."

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