The Hillsdale College softball team shut out Spring Arbor University in last night’s doubleheader, bringing their season record to 12 – 9.
The Chargers won the first game 10 – 0 and the second 5 – 0, due in large part to senior third baseman Jessica Guertin’s three home runs in the two games. And in the first inning of the first game, the Chargers had eight hits.
Head coach Joe Abraham said the pitchers were also key to the wins.
“They really stepped up and dominated their hitters,” he said.
But Abraham said the biggest reason for the wins was that the Chargers never let up.
“We played like we are capable of,” he said. “That’s not easy in the middle of the week in a non-conference game.”
Over the weekend, the softball team went 4 – 2 in their first six GLIAC games of the season.
On Friday, the Chargers swept Wayne State University in a doubleheader, 2 – 1 and 6 – 5.
“We got great pitching in both games,” Abraham said. “We got fantastic defense all day from everybody. We got clutch hits at the times we needed them.”
In the second game, the Chargers led 5 – 2 going into the sixth inning when the Warriors tied up the game at 5 – 5.
“That was wild,” Abraham said. “A Wayne State batter was called safe at first and next thing we know, they had tied it at five.”
So the game extended to an eighth inning. Because it was getting dark outside, the game was going to come to an end after the eighth, regardless if there was a winner.
But in the bottom of the eighth, with a runner on first, Wayne State’s third baseman made a throwing error, lobbing it over the head of their first baseman. When the right fielder tried to pick the ball up, she had to try three times.
“The third time she tried to pick up the ball, I was sending the runner around third to score,” Abraham said. “It was bizarre to say the least.”
In the doubleheader against the University of Findlay on Saturday, the Chargers lost the first 6 – 4 but came back to win the second in eight innings 3 – 2.
“After the first game, we were mad,” junior second baseman Miriam McKay said. “We knew we were going to come out and get that second game.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Chargers had the bases loaded and McKay hit a sacrifice fly to center field to clinch the win.
In the last doubleheader of the weekend, the Chargers faced Tiffin University and won the first game 4 – 1 but lost the last 11 – 4.
McKay said the second game was a lot closer than it looked. In fact, Hillsdale held a one-point lead going into the top of the fourth inning, but a grand slam from Tiffin put the score in Tiffin’s favor, and the Chargers couldn’t catch up.
The Chargers had seven hits to Tiffin’s eight, but they could not generate the runs from those hits.
“We left a decent number of people on base,” Abraham said. “You have to get your hits at the right time. You have to capitalize when you get your hits.”
Abraham praised pitchers senior Laura Homan and freshman Katie Ardrey for their performances over the weekend. Both Homan and Ardrey came away from the weekend with two wins and one loss apiece.
“By the third day, you’re exhausted,” Homan said. “Mentally, you have to be strong enough to perform well.”
Over spring break, the Chargers traveled to Clermont, Fla., to gain key playing time outside. The team played eight games over the span of five days, taking five wins.
On their first day of competition in Florida on March 16, the Chargers defeated Indiana Institute of Technology 5 – 2 and Lock Haven University 8 – 6. Against Lock Haven, the Chargers made an impressive comeback from a 6 – 1 deficit. Guertin also recorded her first home run of the season.
The Chargers’ momentum continued on March 17 when they defeated Merrimack College 7 – 4 and, for the second time, Lock Haven 3 – 2.
The Chargers could not keep the winning streak going on March 19 and lost to nationally-ranked Augustana College 8 – 0 and the University of Sioux Falls 12 – 0. In their final day of Florida competition, the Chargers won against Franklin Pierce University 7 – 5 and lost once again to Augustana 4 – 1.
“This is the best start I’ve been a part of,” McKay said. “It’s a completely different feel. We expect to win. We get mad when we lose.”
The Chargers will hold their first home game of the season on Saturday against Lake Superior State University at 2 p.m.