Softball Vs. Malone

The Hillsdale College softball team achieved a five-game winning streak after sweeping Malone Uni­versity on Tuesday and Ohio Dominican Uni­versity on Sunday, invoking the NCAA mercy rule in the second games against both teams.
The Chargers are now 16 – 6 overall and 11 – 3 in the GLIAC.
Although Hillsdale played as the visitor in the games against Ohio Dominican, it was a hometown dou­ble­header for senior pitchers Sarah Grunert and Sarah Klopfer, assistant coach Kate Ardrey, and head coach Joe Abraham, who are all from the Columbus area.
“In the car on the way back, I told a couple of the girls, ‘It’s really neat to get a dou­ble­header sweep in your hometown,’” Abraham said. “I had friends there, Klopfer had her high school coach there, Grunert had friends there, we all had friends there, and as a team we played prac­ti­cally perfect softball, and they both pitched great, so that was a lot of fun.”
“It was like playing a home game,” Klopfer added.
The team opened the dou­ble­header with three runs in the first inning, beginning with senior out­fielder Ainsley Ellison’s single. Grunert fol­lowed with her first of two doubles that game, com­pounded by hits from junior cen­ter­fielder Bekah Kastning, junior catcher Cassie Asselta, and sophomore Kelsey Gockman for RBIs. Ulti­mately, the Chargers won the first game 7 – 1.
“In the first game, we got to their pitcher imme­di­ately for three runs,” Abraham said. “Even at Ohio Dominican, our hitters were making really good adjust­ments at the plate, so by the second time through the batting order, we were scoring runs.”
Grunert allowed no earned runs the first game, and Klopfer pitched a shut-out second game.
The duo’s pitching was com­ple­mented by a strong offensive lineup, with eight of nine starters getting hits in the second game for an 8 – 0 win in six innings.
The team battled for their first victory against Malone, which Abraham said was char­ac­ter­istic of Malone’s games this season.
“It’s always a little unset­tling coming into a dou­ble­header like this, playing a team at the bottom of the league,” he said. “Even though they’re at the bottom of the league, they’re a capable team, and they can beat you, as they’ve shown in the league. You know Malone is going to jump up and beat some teams, and you just hope it’s not you.”
Abraham said the team made good offensive adjust­ments after watching Malone’s pitcher the first time through the lineup. Good exe­cution allowed Hillsdale to take a decisive lead in the sixth inning with Kastning’s double and two runs batted in.
“Specif­i­cally, what got us going in game one was Haley Lawrence laying down a bunt for a hit, and Brittany Mahan fol­lowed with another bunt for a hit, and next thing you know, we get four runs, and we’re off and running,” Abraham said. “But those two bunts were huge for us.”
The second game against Malone started on a strong note with Grunert’s solo home run, and con­tinued on with multi-hit games for Gockman, Asselta, and Kastning.
“Our defense made some huge plays,” Klopfer said. “There were a number of line drives right at people that were nice. Also our hitting really came together — everyone made the adjust­ments they needed in the box, and got the hits we needed. There were a number of clutch hits to get us ahead as far as we were.”
Klopfer allowed no earned runs in the second game, which ended in the fifth inning when Malone was unable to return Hillsdale’s runs with one of their own.
Asselta said the team’s hard work has pro­vided them with a strong team men­tality.
“We’ve rec­og­nized our weak­nesses and turned them into strengths,” she said. “A while ago, bunting was a reason that we lost the game. Now, we’ve been able to come back, and we’re getting the bunts down just like we need to. Any­thing that we have not exe­cuted well we’ve prac­ticed, we’ve worked on it, and we make sure that we can execute it the next time.”
This weekend, the Chargers will face Ferris State Uni­versity, Wayne State Uni­versity, and Saginaw Valley State Uni­versity.