SHARE
Junior shortstop Jessica Taylor is hitting .398 on the season Jessica Taylor | Courtesy

Within 24 hours, the softball team saw its highest and lowest points of the season: taking two games from Ohio Dominican Uni­versity — then the No. 1 team in the G-MAC — after getting swept by Ursuline College, head coach Joe Abraham said.

After con­cluding the con­ference season with a sweep of the Alderson Broaddus Bat­tlers, the Chargers will enter the G-MAC cham­pi­onship tour­nament as the No. 4 seed.

Despite playing six games in the three days prior to the dou­ble­header against Alderson Broaddus (5 – 35, 4 – 18 G-MAC), Abraham said the team kept energy levels high while closing out the con­ference season.

“We were ready to go,” he said. “Even after four con­sec­utive days, I thought we were in pretty good shape.”

Hillsdale opened with a 4 – 1 win with runs from freshman pitcher Natalie Walters, freshman out­fielder Sarah Wojcik, sophomore shortstop Julia Huebner, and junior shortstop Jessica Taylor. In game two, the Chargers took an early five-run lead in the bottom of the second, which they extended by another five runs over the next two innings to end the game in five innings. Sophomore shortstop Erin Gordon scored three runs for the Chargers, junior out­fielder Katie Kish went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and freshman catcher Madison Rathbun went 3-for-3 with 5 RBIs in a breakout game.

“It was amazing to be a part of that, mostly because it felt like God had been preparing me for those moments, espe­cially coming into tour­na­ments. It was super cool to have a game like that this late in the season,” Rathbun said. “With God’s timing and the team’s support and my own work put in — it was a good equation.”

Sophomore pitcher Dana Wei­dinger tossed a shutout in game two against the Bat­tlers, allowing only two hits in five innings of work.

Just the day before, the Chargers swept the Ohio Dominican Pan­thers (32 – 19, 18 – 6 G-MAC) to secure their place in the G-MAC tour­nament with 6 – 1 and 6 – 0 wins.

In game one, sophomore out­fielder Vic­toria Addis put the Chargers on the board with a leadoff home run in the top of the second inning, fol­lowed later by a Kish single that scored sophomore catcher Sydney San Juan. The Chargers extended their lead with four more runs in the sixth inning with a two-run singles from sophomore shortstop Sam Catron and Taylor.

“Through and through, there was clutch hitting, and our bats were coming around throughout the team,” Rathbun said. “It’s not just one person, it’s our whole team that’s coming together at the right time. I think that’s the most important thing.”

The Chargers com­pleted the sweep with another six-run victory. The team took an early lead in game two, starting with a two-run double from senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman that scored Catron and junior second baseman Amanda Marra. Four more runs — including solo homers from Walters and Rathbun — kept the Chargers ahead.

“When Natalie Walters and Madison Rathbun hit their first home runs, we all went berserk,” San Juan said. “That was so special to see them breaking out and hitting bombs.”

Hillsdale’s strong offense and pitching was rein­forced with some of the strongest defense of the season, San Juan said.

Over the two games, freshman pitcher Erin Hunt pitched seven hitless innings.

“Natalie and Dana also really picked it up this weekend, and each of them pitched three or four good innings against ODU,” Abraham said. “Erin had several wins and had a great four days, too.”

Just the day before sweeping ODU, Hillsdale fell to Ursuline (15 – 27-1, 10 – 13-1 G-MAC), scoring only one run across both games in the 4 – 1 and 1 – 0 losses.

“In the game of softball, there’s really no such thing as an upset,” Abraham said. “At Ursuline on Friday, we just came out flat and didn’t bat — plus we hit into some atro­cious luck. Then we come out the next day and hit off two of the best pitchers in the con­ference. You just never know. We’re just trying to keep an even keel through it all.”

Thursday, Hillsdale split a dou­ble­header against Cedarville Uni­versity (30 – 16, 19 – 5 G-MAC), bat­tling through nine innings for a 6 – 5 win. The game was scoreless through the fourth inning until the Yellow Jackets put up five runs between the fifth and sixth innings. The Chargers returned with four runs of their own off a Walters single and doubles from Addis and Kish in the bottom of the sixth, and a Taylor double scored Wojcik in the bottom of the seventh to tie up the game.

“It was really cool. Almost every girl was part of that game, whether it was as a runner, a hitter, or a sub,” San Juan said. “Almost everyone’s name was in the scorebook, and even the girls who weren’t were ready to step up.”

San Juan said she felt con­fident that the team would win, it was just a question of who would be the one to step up. After the eighth inning passed scoreless, Catron’s walk-off double proved to be the game-winning hit, scoring Marra in the bottom of the ninth.

“That was the type of hit we needed all year, and that was a great comeback win for us,” Abraham said. “Up until ODU, that was one of the high points of the season.”

Hunt started on the mound for the Chargers, aided by Walters in the seventh inning, and returned in the eighth and ninth inning to hold the Yellow Jackets down. She leads the G-MAC pitchers in strikeouts.  

The Chargers were unable to com­plete the sweep, however, and fell to Cedarville 13 – 1 in the nightcap.

“I think it was hard to come back after the emo­tional win in game one,” Abraham said.

Con­sis­tency and even-headed playing will be important headed into the con­ference tour­nament on Thursday, Abraham said. Hillsdale will face Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity (29 – 15-1, 15 – 9 G-MAC). The teams have not played since they split a dou­ble­header in the Chargers’ season opener.

“It will be a good, even matchup,” Abraham said. “Both teams have good pitching and solid hitting. But we’re capable of doing it. We went to the first place team and beat them, so we’re capable of winning the tour­nament.”

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    The Ladies Softball team played very oppor­tunis­ti­cally this season and did well. They’re still a year or two away from their talent being Con­ference-leading, but they did well enough to grab a slot in the top half of qual­i­fiers. That’s really great.

    For next season, the team as a whole needs to improve it’s hitting. It’s not con­sistent enough to vie for the con­ference cham­pi­onship. And the team needs to find a second go-to Pitcher to accent Freshman Erin Hunt. Wei­dinger and Walters have had their strong days, but they’ve also struggled on the mound. Someone needs to step forward and throw their hat in the ring for that second slot, or maybe the new HS recruit Pitcher they are bringing in will make a play for it?

    Con­grat­u­la­tions to Head Coach Joe Abraham, Assistant Coaches Riley Johnson and Jim Zoltowski for the fine season. Now let’s make some noise in the Tourny!

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    UPDATE: And the ladies went 2 – 0 on their first day in the Tourney, beating Trevecca and Cedarville! On to the cham­pi­onship game tomorrow against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, who Hillsdale split with in the regular season. Erin Hunt pitched both games today, amazing!

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    UPDATE: The ladies beat Ken­tucky Wes­leyan in the Semi Final game on Friday, 4 – 0. On to the Cham­pi­onship Game on Sat­urday! Erin Hunt once again pitched the shutout win!

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Hillsdale College ladies softball team are GMAC Tourney Cham­pions! They beat Ken­tucky Wes­leyan this afternoon 4 – 1 to take the Tourney title. Once again, Freshman phenom Erin Hunt dom­i­nated from the mound (how was she not chosen Freshman of the year or Pitcher of the year by the GMAC????), holding Ken­tucky Wes­leyan to one run. 4 straight games in the tourney with her pitching, amazing! Her arm must be tired.

    Coach Abraham and Asst. Coaches Riley and Zoltowski did a great job this season and the best thing is much of this talent comes back next season. The lady Chargers need more depth at Pitcher and more con­sistent hitting, but all the ele­ments are there for a long stay at the top of the GMAC. Well done, Coaches!

    Hillsdale College, where we play for cham­pi­onships-Ladies Cross Country, Ladies Bas­ketball, Ladies Vol­leyball, Ladies Swimming and Diving and now Ladies Softball! Now, if we can only get the men’s teams fol­lowing suit.