Sophomore second baseman Amanda Marra went 2‑for‑4 against Saginaw Valley in the GLIAC tour­nament. Sarah Klopfer | Courtesy

Over the course of a single season, the Hillsdale softball team went from won­dering whether they would make it to the GLIAC tour­nament to com­peting for first place on the final day of the con­ference season. 

Though the Chargers were pushed out of the single-elim­i­nation tour­nament after falling 3 – 1 to Saginaw Valley, the team which ulti­mately went on to win the tour­nament, the Chargers had only one less hit than the Cardinals.

“We hit that pitcher better than anyone else did,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “The ball just didn’t fall our way that whole game. It was just a lot of bad luck, to be honest.”

Both teams’ pitchers allowed only one earned run, but two Hillsdale errors, which led directly to Saginaw runs, and the 10 Hillsdale runners left on base con­tributed to the loss.

“I thought we played really well — Dana pitched great — and we actually hit the ball really well, but we just left 10 people on base,” Abraham said.

The Chargers’ lone run of the game came in the top of the fifth inning, when sophomore left fielder Katie Kish’s RBI single brought in senior catcher Cassie Asselta. Sophomore second baseman Amanda Marra went 2‑for‑4 in the effort, and senior cen­ter­fielder Bekah Kastning, junior third baseman Kelsey Gockman, Kish, and Asselta all had hits. Freshman pitcher Dana Wei­dinger allowed only one earned run and struck out one in six innings of work.

The tour­nament was just as com­pet­itive as the regular season, with the third- through sixth-seed teams all within one game of each other, and two of the tour­nament games extending to 11 innings.

“With every team in the GLIAC, you never know who’s going to win, and I think we sur­prised a lot of people this season having a pretty new team,” freshman utility player Carlin Mac­Donald-Gannon said. “I think as a whole, we had a pretty great season, and we were in it right until the last inning against Saginaw. I think every team there had a chance to win it all.”

Six Chargers were rec­og­nized at the tour­nament with GLIAC acco­lades. Kastning and Kish were both named first team all-GLIAC, Wei­dinger and freshman des­ig­nated player Sydney San Juan were named second team all-GLIAC, and Asselta and freshman shortstop Sam Catron were named hon­orable mention all-GLIAC. Kastning was also made first team all-region, and is one of 25 nom­inees for the NFCA Division II National Player of the Year.

Kastning said in addition to improve­ments in hitting over the course of the season, team members stepping up in their indi­vidual roles helped the Chargers’ reach their fourth con­sec­utive winning season.

“Everyone did a really good job of accepting their roles and doing exactly what they needed to do, and that helped the team a lot,” Kastning said.

Abraham said the overall youth of the team was com­ple­mented by strong lead­ership from the team’s three seniors. 

“The other thing that was fun about this season was the senior lead­ership we had from Cassie, Bekah, and Kyra,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for better seniors and better leaders and better people.”

The Chargers will move to the Great Midwest Ath­letic Con­ference next year, with this season’s tour­nament being their last in the GLIAC.

“It was a great season,” assistant coach Riley Johnson said. “The girls did incredibly well. They bought into the program, the culture, which is huge, and their growth over the season was great to see. I’m looking forward to next year and seeing what we can do in the GMAC.”