It’s been a historic season for the Trine softball team and Bree Fuller has played a leading role.
The Fulton graduate and junior pitcher has taken over as Trine’s lead pitcher and had a dominant season that’s included a perfect game, a no-hitter and being honored as the MIAA’s Most Valuable Pitcher. And Fuller’s success in the circle has sparked a 41-4 season for the Thunder and a first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Super Regional that begins today in Atlanta.
“She’s been huge for us,” Trine coach Don Danklefsen said. “She’s really allowed our defense to relax. Our offense knows that when Bree is on the mound, if we score three or four runs we should be fine because she’s not going to give up too many runs or too many hits.”
Fuller embraced the opportunity for a bigger role after spending her first two seasons pitching behind former Trine standout Andi Gasco. She’s turned in one of the best seasons in school history and enters today’s games against Emory tied for the single-season record for wins (23) and strikeouts (230).
The record year has been a little surprising considering Fuller didn’t throw in the offseason because of surgery to have a torn labrum in her hip socket repaired at Michigan State in August. Fuller’s hip bothered her and limited how often she could pitch last spring.
“That made me kind of nervous because usually we play a fall season and I usually throw all winter with my catcher and we work on strength and conditioning,” Fuller said. “A big question for me was would I be able to throw the same, if not better, with losing three to six months of practice.
“… (But) it was definitely scary because the hip I had (surgery) on was the leg that I usually kick out with and generate a lot of power with. A big thing pushing me in the recovery phase was to try and beat those odds and get back for my team.”
Fuller has beat the odds and her dominant season comes as no surprise to Danklefsen.
“She wants to be in the big spot,” he said. “She’s just one of those kids that puts so much work in that she’s very confident. She really does thrive in the big spotlight.”
* CENTRAL MICHIGAN: Senior pitcher Chelsea Sundberg (Olivet) helped the CMU softball team to a 34-22 mark this season. Sundberg was 9-8 with a 3.51 ERA and had 53 strikeouts in 26 appearances.
* ALBION: Spencer Bonofiglio (Okemos) and Brendan Diamond (Holt) were among the top performers for the Briton baseball team in their 18-22 season. Bonofiglio hit .331 with 10 doubles, two home runs and a team-best 31 RBIs, while Diamond hit .297 with 19 RBIs and led Albion with 24 stolen bases.
* HAMPDEN-SYDNEY: Tigers junior golfer Brian Burt (Holt) was one of five individuals to qualify for this week’s Division III national championships in Greensboro, N.C. Burt, a first team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference selection this spring, entered Thursday’s third round with a four-stroke lead. He dropped into a tie for eighth after struggling Thursday in a third round that was suspended.