A pair of 7 – 4 wins at home against the Malone University Pioneers (12 – 16, 5 – 13 G-MAC) advanced the Hillsdale College softball team to fourth in the G-MAC with a 9 – 5 conference record.
“The doubleheader against Malone was great for us because we had to come back twice, and there was pressure for us to put some runs on the board,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “We showed that we can string a bunch of hits together and perform in the clutch. Those games were what we’ve been waiting for all year with the way we played.”
After the Pioneers put up three runs in the top of the first, the Chargers tied up the game when heads-up base running from junior shortstop Jessica Taylor and back-to-back doubles from freshman pitcher Natalie Walters and sophomore outfielder Victoria Addis brought senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman and Walters home.
“This was one of the first games in a while where we were able to score runs in clutch situations,” junior second baseman Amanda Marra said. “We were finding the gaps and hitting the ball hard, and we’ve kind of had problems doing both at the same time all season.”
The Chargers pushed ahead with three more runs in the fifth inning with RBI singles from sophomore shortstop Sam Catron and freshman first baseman Emma Johnson and a sacrifice fly from sophomore catcher Sydney San Juan scored senior first baseman Haley Lawrence.
Malone managed one run in the top of the sixth, but an RBI single from Marra scored junior outfielder Katie Kish, who went 3-for-3 in game one.
“Katie has been doing great,” Johnson said. “Any time she hits the ball, it’s hard. Amanda has also had a lot of hard hits.”
On the mound, freshman pitcher Erin Hunt recorded her tenth win of the season, striking out six Pioneer batters and allowing only four earned runs over the course of the game.
The Chargers started game two with a two-run lead thanks to an RBI double by Addis that scored sophomore shortstop Julia Huebner in the second inning and a solo home run from Addis in the fourth inning. Over the course of the game, Addis went 3-for-3 with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored.
“We had Victoria Addis finally bust out offensively, which was a huge help to the team,” Abraham said. “We just had a whole bunch of people come through with big hits in that doubleheader, and we got the whole lineup going top to bottom.”
Sophomore pitcher Dana Weidinger shutout the Pioneers for the first four innings, allowing a single run in the top of the fifth and striking out four. In the final three innings of the game, Hunt returned to the mound, working her way out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation to record the win.
“Dana Weidinger threw four great innings in game two, but the third time around they started to hit her, so we had to get her out of there,” Abraham said. “Hunt came back on and actually threw her strongest innings.”
The Pioneers put up two runs in the fifth inning to tie up the game, and another two in the top of the sixth. The Chargers, however, recovered from the two-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning, pushing five runs across — three of which came from 2-out situations — to put the Chargers ahead in the 7 – 4 win. Taylor went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and Marra went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. Gockman, Johnson, and freshman catcher Madison Stoner also got hits in the nightcap.
Hillsdale will complete the conference season with four doubleheaders: one against Cedarville University (28 – 14, 17 – 3 G-MAC) at home this afternoon at 3:30, and three away against Ursuline University (12 – 26-1, 7 – 12-1 G-MAC), Ohio Dominican University (29 – 16, 15 – 3 G-MAC), and Alderson Broaddus University (4 – 28, 3 – 13 G-MAC).
“I think the biggest thing is just going to be keeping the bats hot,” Marra said. “We’re excited. It’s just going to be a grind and a matter of staying focused and giving it our all.”