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Junior first baseman Haley Lawrence hit a walk-off single on Sunday to give the Chargers their 1-0 win over Ferris State. (Photo: Zoe Hopkins / Courtesy)

After falling to Grand Valley State University in its first game of the weekend, the Hillsdale College softball team rallied back to win their final conference game against the Lakers and sweep the Ferris State Bulldogs this weekend. The 3-1 weekend boosts the Chargers to 5-3 in the GLIAC and 15-16 overall. 

Grand Valley started game one with a run in the first, and followed up in the second inning with six more, bringing the score to 7-0 early in the game.

The Chargers responded by capitalizing on a lapse in Laker defense when freshman catcher Sydney San Juan drew a walk, advanced to second off freshman right fielder Victoria Addis’s single, and scored after sophomore left fielder Katie Kish reached base on a Laker error. 

The Chargers followed up with a second run by senior center fielder Bekah Kastning, who scored on an Addis double, bringing the score to 7-2. After the Lakers answered with an eighth run of their own, the score remained for the final three innings of the game.

Though Grand Valley held a decisive lead for almost the entire game, Hillsdale’s defense prevented any additional runs off Grand Valley hits in the second half of the game.

“We didn’t play poorly the first game, but they got key hits they needed to get. Regardless, I still think we did a great job of staying up the entire game,” senior catcher Cassie Asselta said. “If we had given in, we wouldn’t have been able to come back and win the second game. I think that just goes to show that we’re not willing to give up.”

Hillsdale came back in the second game for a 5-4 win, ending the day with a split against GVSU. Though head coach Joe Abraham said the team’s Sunday games were cleaner, the victory against Grand Valley was satisfying.

“I’m not going to lie, it was nice to beat Grand Valley in our last GLIAC regular-season game with them,” he said.

In game 2, Hillsdale held Grand Valley scoreless until the bottom of the third inning. The Chargers answered GVSU’s runs in the third and fourth innings with two of their own in the top of the fifth, when an Addis single brought Asselta and Kastning in to score.

Hillsdale came back from behind in the sixth inning when freshman shortstop Sam Catron scored off Asselta’s single to tie the game. The Chargers took the lead when sophomore second baseman Amanda Marra scored on Kastning’s single. 

A sacrifice fly from junior third baseman Kelsey Gockman brought in sophomore outfielder Carly Gouge, running for Asselta, bringing the score to 5-3. A key defensive play by Catron helped the Chargers maintain their lead when she fielded a shot and threw the ball to first from her knees for an inning-ending out in the bottom of the sixth.

Though the Lakers managed one more run, a pop-up foul caught by Asselta and a long throw from Gockman to first base in the bottom of the seventh inning helped the Chargers maintain their lead for a 5-4 victory. On the mound, freshman pitcher Dana Weidinger got the win, striking out three GVSU hitters over the course of the game.

“We had a lot of great defensive plays, a lot of heads-up softball, which was satisfying to see,” Asselta said.

On Sunday, the team swept Ferris State. Game one proved tight until the very end, when Hillsdale pulled off a 1-0 victory in the game’s final inning.

“It was a really clean game from both teams,” Kish said.

The bats stayed quiet for most of the game, the result of strong pitching and defensive performances from both teams.

“That was the epitome of a pitcher’s duel,” Abraham said. “That was a throwback to 1997 softball, when all the games were 1-0 or 2-1.”

Addis led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, putting pressure on Ferris’ pitcher and defense, Abraham said. 

“At that point, we just needed to put the ball into play, and we did,” Abraham said.

Kish reached base on a Ferris error, and a sacrifice bunt from Catron advanced Kish and Addis to second and third. Then, Ferris pitcher walked Marra, loading the bases. With one out, junior Haley Lawrence put a two-strike pitch into play, bringing in Addis as the game-winning run. 

In game two, Hillsdale completed the sweep with a 10-2 victory in six innings. The team started the game when a Gockman double scored Asselta and Kastning in the first inning. Hillsdale continued its hitting streak in the second inning when back-to-back doubles from Kastning and Gockman brought in runs from Marra, freshman first baseman Shelby Sprouse, and Kastning. An Addis triple scored Gockman for the final run of the inning, giving the Chargers an early 7-0 lead.

The next runs came in the top of the fourth inning, when senior pitcher Kyra Rodi, running for Asselta, scored off a single from Gockman. Gockman then scored off Kish’s single. The Bulldogs answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The game concluded after Marra’s single scored Kish in the top of the sixth, and Hillsdale’s defense prevented Ferris from scoring in the remainder of the sixth.

Weidinger got the win in both games Sunday, striking out seven and allowing only six hits over the thirteen innings she pitched.

“For the most part, she completely shut down Ferris, and did a great job against GVSU,” Abraham said.

Over the weekend, Kastning achieved her 200th career hit, making her the first player in the last 20 years to accomplish this.

Currently, the team stands 15-16 on the season. This weekend, the team will face Northwood University and Saginaw Valley State University in traveling doubleheaders.

“It’ll be another good week of softball,” Kish said.