May 20, 2006
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
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
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
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
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.