Strong improvements in hitting from a young softball team manifested in Hillsdale’s sweeps over Lourdes University and Walsh University and a split with Lake Erie College over the course of four days.
Hillsdale took an early 4 – 0 lead in game one against Lake Erie on Friday with an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Amanda Marra in the top of the second inning and another from freshman outfielder Victoria Addis in the top of the third. Addis and sophomore outfielder Katie Kish also scored.
The Chargers extended their lead in the top of the fifth when Catron hit another single, scoring Kish and Addis. A double in the top of the sixth from senior center fielder Bekah Kastning — who leads the GLIAC with a .486 batting average — scored sophomore outfielder Carly Gouge. Though Lake Erie tallied two runs over the course of the game, freshman pitcher Dana Weidinger got the win on the mound, striking out four.
“With Lake Erie, we know they hit the ball really well, so we figured we were going to have to score some runs to win those games,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “We jumped on them in game one, and Dana pitched a really good game against them, but it was still clear they could hit the ball.”
Lake Erie bats came alive in the second game, scoring a run in the second inning and another three in the third. Though Catron hit an RBI double in the fourth inning, six Lake Erie runs in the top of the fifth gave the Storm a 10 – 1 lead. Runs from Kastning and Gouge in the bottom of the fifth kept the Chargers in the game.
Junior third baseman Kelsey Gockman hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh. Freshman shortstop Shelby Sprouse hit an RBI single with two outs, but the Chargers weren’t able to complete the comeback, ending the night 10 – 7.
“We didn’t give up, though,” Catron said. “That was the big thing — no matter how far we were down, we kept fighting.”
Hillsdale swept Walsh University Saturday, starting game one with a first-inning home run from Gockman, her second of the weekend. She brought in senior catcher Cassie Asselta, who reached after being hit by a pitch. Asselta is currently ranked sixth in DII softball for hit by pitches.
The Chargers gained two additional runs in the top of the fifth, when Kastning hit an RBI double, and later scored on an Addis single. Two more runs in the sixth inning from freshman catcher Sydney San Juan’s 2-RBI single brought the Chargers to a six-run lead.
Though Walsh got a last-minute run, freshman pitcher Erin Gordon pitched six shutout innings and got the win on the mound.
“Erin pitched great,” Abraham said. “She was in command all day, making them swing at her pitches, and we played great defense.”
Weidinger took the mound in game two against Walsh, picking up her 16th win of the season in all six shutout innings of the 8 – 0 victory.
Strong Charger defense and pitching complemented strong hitting throughout the game. Hillsdale gained two runs in the second inning off an RBI double from Marra and an RBI single from Sprouse. Two innings later, Sprouse’s double brought Kish home, and Catron scored on a passed ball in the next play. An Asselta double scored Lawrence later in the inning.
The final two runs of the game came from sacrifice flies. Catron scored on Lawrence’s fly ball in the fifth inning, and Kastning scored on freshman outfielder Carlin MacDonald-Gannon’s game-ending sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Tuesday, the Chargers swept the Lourdes Gray Wolves, closing out both nonconference games with key hits to improve to 23 – 18 overall.
“Both games, we managed to get runs when we really needed them, despite it being a blasé day for us,” Abraham said. “We never apologize for wins, and we’ll gladly take two.”
In the opener, Hillsdale answered Lourdes’ run in the first inning with two in the second inning when Gockman scored on a Marra single and Addis stole home the next play. The Chargers gained two more runs in the fifth inning when Marra walked with the bases loaded, and Gockman scored on a wild pitch the next play.
Lourdes scored three more times, once in the fifth and twice in the seventh to tie up the game, but the Chargers won after a walk-off double from Kastning brought the score to 5 – 4.
Though Lourdes out-hit Hillsdale in game two, the Chargers managed to complete the sweep with a 5 – 3 win. Gordon got her second win of the day in relief effort, pitching three perfect innings.
Hillsdale got on the board in the first inning when Catron scored on a wild pitch, but Lourdes took the lead after scoring twice in the second inning and again in the fourth.
The Chargers responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Kastning scored on Kish’s single, and a two-out single from sophomore first baseman Haley Lawrence batted in Marra and junior third baseman Jessica Taylor.
The Chargers scored again in the bottom of the sixth when San Juan scored, and Gordon secured the win from the mound, striking out two in the top of the seventh to close out the game.
Overall, Kastning said the team has improved offensively over the course of the season.
“We’ve all just come alive hitting-wise,” Kastning said. “We’ve had a lot of good hitting in clutch situations. It’s cool to see people come in and get the job done.”
This weekend, Hillsdale hosts Ashland University and Ohio Dominican University.
“It’s going to be four very difficult games this weekend, which is nothing new for our team,” Abraham said. “We’re happy with where things stand. Over half the team is new this year, and we’re right at the top of the standings, so we couldn’t be any more pleased.”