The Hillsdale College softball team poses in Florida during it’s 6 – 6 spring break trip to open the season. (Photo: Jessica Taylor | Courtesy)

The Hillsdale College softball team will play its first games in the G‑MAC against Trevecca Nazarene and Ken­tucky Wes­leyan this coming weekend, beginning the season with two strong oppo­nents.

“We start off this weekend with four games against two of the best teams in the league,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “These are teams we could beat or they could beat us. These games could go either way.”

Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, the defending G‑MAC cham­pions, were the first to unseat Trevecca Nazarene as the tour­nament cham­pions since the G‑MAC’s inception in 2011. Hillsdale has played both teams pre­vi­ously as a part of the non-con­ference season.

In the time since the Chargers returned from Florida 6 – 6 on the season, Abraham said the team has spent the week preparing for con­ference play and improving short-game defense, offensive mindset, and sit­u­a­tional hitting.

Cur­rently, Kish and junior second baseman Amanda Marra are ranked second and third in the G‑MAC for batting, aver­aging .500 and .486 respec­tively.

Kish also com­mented on the strength of the team’s pitching staff.

Hillsdale polled third in the G‑MAC in the pre­season poll, with Ken­tucky Wes­leyan pre­dicted for first and Cedarville Uni­versity pre­dicted for second.

“I think that we are going into it with the men­tality that we’re expecting to get some wins,” senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman said. “We think that we can def­i­nitely be a very dom­inant team.”

Even in the new con­ference, the Chargers will face many familiar teams for­merly in the GLIAC, including Findlay Uni­versity, Lake Erie College, Malone Uni­versity, Ohio Dominican Uni­versity, Ursuline College, and Walsh Uni­versity. Abraham said he’s looking forward to the oppor­tunity to compete in the new con­ference.

“Going into the G‑MAC, we’re finally matched up against schools with similar resources to our program, so it gives us more of a fair shot,” Abraham said. “You can’t ask for much more as a coach than to be put on somewhat equal footing with your oppo­nents.”

Junior Katie Kish said she’s opti­mistic for the season after facing strong com­pe­tition in Florida and having the oppor­tunity to practice on a field.

“I think we’re going to be really good this season,” Kish said. “By the end of that week, we were playing so well together that we’re going to be hard to beat if we’re playing as a team. We’re all just really excited and have high hopes for the season.”