Although it took a game for the bats to get warmed up, the Hillsdale softball team opened its first homestand of the season with a sweep of the Ohio Valley University Scots, improving to 4 – 2 in the G-MAC and 10 – 8 overall.
“It was really a good day for us,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “At the start of the day, we weren’t even sure we were going to be able to play, but it ended up being a sunny day and we got two nice wins.”
Game one against the Fighting Scots (2 – 20, 0 – 10 G-MAC) remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning, when freshman first baseman Emma Johnson managed a two-out, two-run single to score junior outfielder Katie Kish and junior second baseman Amanda Marra, both of whom drew walks earlier in the inning.
“They had just changed pitchers, too, and that can be a really intimidating thing for freshmen especially,” sophomore catcher Sydney San Juan said. “She made it look so easy.”
Johnson’s single ended up being the game winning hit as freshman pitcher Erin Hunt recorded her fifth win of the season, allowing only two hits and striking out eight in the 2 – 0 Charger victory.
“We got fantastic pitching from both Erin Hunt and Dana Weidinger,” Abraham said. “They both just dominated. They threw strikes, they kept the pitch count down, and really gave us two good performances that we needed while our bats coming into the game were struggling.”
Strong pitching performances were backed by equally strong defense across both games.
“[Junior shortstop] Jessica Taylor played great at shortstop, and Amanda Marra had a good day at second base,” Abraham said. “Our catchers did really well behind the plate, and our defense was pretty much perfect all day. Our pitchers played good defense too.”
The Charger bats came around in game two, starting out the first inning with three runs from Kish, Marra, and sophomore shortstop Sam Catron.
“We’ve really struggled with putting runs together and getting people on and scoring them,” Taylor said. “Finally getting those runs will lead us into this weekend well.”
Hillsdale put together two more three-run innings to end the game early in a 9 – 1 win. In the bottom of the third, a 2-RBI single from senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman scored Taylor and freshman outfielder Natalie Stepanenko, and then a single from San Juan brought Gockman home.
“We were definitely more confident as a team and found that team mojo,” San Juan said. “It’s not that we didn’t have team chemistry before, but there was a hypeness that we hadn’t seen yet.”
Although the Fighting Scots managed a run in the top of the fifth, three more runs from San Juan, junior outfielder Carly Gouge, and Kish kept the game to five innings.
In the circle, Weidinger secured her third win of the season during game two, striking out three batters and allowing three hits in five innings of work.
“Dana came back after a rough away weekend and started the game strong with a lot of power,” Taylor said.
The Chargers will face the University of Findlay Oilers (16 – 15, 6 – 0 G-MAC ) in a doubleheader this Sunday before returning for two more home games on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against the Walsh University Cavaliers (13 – 11, 2 – 2 G-MAC).
“We did really well this past weekend, and I think that’s going to give us a lot of confidence heading into this weekend,” San Juan said. “We’ll be facing stronger pitching, but now we know we can put the runs together.”