Senior center fielder Bekah Kastning went 5-for-8 on Monday when the Chargers matched up with the Tiffin Dragons. (Photo: Sarah Klopfer / Courtesy)

After beginning conference play over the weekend, the Hillsdale College softball team split doubleheaders against University of Findlay and Tiffin University, leaving the Chargers 2-2 in conference and 12-15 overall on the season.

The Chargers opened the conference season with a 4-2 win against Findlay on Friday, when freshman pitcher Dana Weidinger’s four strikeouts and no earned runs allowed were paired with Hillsdale runs in three consecutive innings by freshman right fielder Victoria Addis, freshman shortstop Sam Catron, and senior centerfielder Bekah Kastning. In the sixth inning, sophomore left fielder Katie Kish scored Kastning for the final run of the game.

“We hit better than we did in Florida,” junior third baseman Jessica Taylor said. “Seeing the progression of the hitting off GLIAC pitchers helped us see we’d be a competitive team in the GLIAC.”

Though the Chargers matched the Oilers’ hitting in game two, they began the game with an early 3-0 deficit that stuck for the first five innings. Getting runners around the bases proved difficult until the top of the sixth, when hits from senior catcher Cassie Asselta and junior third baseman Kelsey Gockman brought in Kastning and Kish, bringing the score to 3-2. The game ended abruptly after a Findlay double play ended the top of the seventh inning, preventing any further scoring opportunities for the Chargers.

“It’s frustrating to lose the second game after you win the first, but it really just comes down to hitting better,” Kastning said. “We played fairly solid defense, but we do need to hit better.”

Hillsdale won the opener against Tiffin 4-2, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third. Gockman’s two-out, two-run double scored Kastning and freshman catcher Sydney San Juan, giving the Chargers a lead they maintained for the rest of the game. 

“It was the kind of hit we’ve been missing for the most part this year,” head coach Joe Abraham said.

Later in the inning, Gockman scored on an Asselta single, and in the bottom of the fifth, a walk drawn by Addis with the bases loaded scored Kish. 

Though the Chargers outhit Tiffin in the nightcap, timely hitting proved difficult. The only runs came in the second and fifth innings off singles from Catron and Gockman for a 3-2 loss — the second of the weekend. 

“We need to start carrying over the excitement and energy from the first game into the second game,” Taylor said.

Abraham said the team will work on improving pressure hitting, smart baserunning, and bunting — and he hopes the team will be able to get some key wins this weekend.

“We’re hitting decently, we’re just not doing it with people in scoring position,” Abraham said. “We’re right on the verge of being a really good team, but we just have to play a clean seven innings and we’ve had trouble doing that so far.”

Next week, the Chargers will play home doubleheaders against Grand Valley State University on Saturday and against Ferris State University on Sunday. 

“It’s going to be two tough doubleheaders,” he said. “We need to pick up at least two or three wins in these four games, so it will be a good challenge for our girls.”