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Pitching leads the way in softball's undefeated fall season

Mercer's softball team was 7-0 in its fall season, beating opponents by a combined score of 81-14.
Mercer's softball team was 7-0 in its fall season, beating opponents by a combined score of 81-14.

During its seven-game undefeated fall season, Mercer softball allowed only two runs per game. The success on the mound is simply a continuation of the strength the pitching staff displayed last season.

The Bears played over the span of three weeks, beating Georgia Highlands 9-0, Wallace 12-4, East Georgia State College 16-2, Georgia College and State 11-2, Georgia Military College 19-3 and 4-3 and South Georgia State College 10-0.

“Our pitchers did a great job, especially throwing a perfect game the last game,” said head coach Stephanie Defeo. “I don’t think I’ve seen that in over a decade, so it was awesome.”

Senior pitcher Jill McElderry, junior Megan Bilgri and sophomore Stella Preston combined for the perfect game against South Georgia State College. McElderry appeared in four of the seven fall outings and did not allow a run.

Hayes Rule

Last season, Bilgri led the Bears on the mound with a 2.25 ERA and 13-7 record. Preston boasted a 2.58 ERA and 5-10 record while McElderry had a 4.4 ERA and 3-4 record.

“For us, last year our pitching was really, really strong. So to see that continue is exciting,” Defeo said. “To see the development of our pitchers, even the ones who have been here for four years, has been amazing.”

Defeo said the purpose of the fall season is to give players extra experience, especially new ones in the program. She said this season, the team worked on improving offensively  as well as finishing innings.

“We work on actually the little things and making sure we’re fundamentally sound,” Defeo said. “So when we get to the spring, the routine plays we make every time.”

Senior Megan Rud said that once the team returns from summer, it is mentally ready and excited to return to the field together. Rud was steady from the plate during the fall season, recording 10 hits and two doubles.

“I know over the summer -- not just me, but all our teammates -- we work really hard over the summer so we can stay in shape from what we had in the spring when the season ended,” Rud said. “We just continue that throughout the summer so that we can be mentally prepared for all the conditioning and practices we have in the fall.”

And all of that conditioning and practicing prepares the team for the spring, its conference season. Defeo said despite losing a couple key players, this year’s team is a snapshot of last year’s but maybe even better with the new additions.

“Seeing that we can all have fun as a team on the field and win is a really good sign for the spring,” Rud said as her teammates played duck-duck-goose behind her.


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