The Hillsdale Chargers began their fall season on Sunday and dropped two games against Division I Bowling Green State University.
In game one, the Chargers held the Falcons two runs in a 2 – 1 loss. The second game got away, as the Chargers fell 12 – 1.
Despite the losses, head coach Kyle Gross said he was glad he got to see the team play in real games.
“I was impressed with the team at first,” Gross said. “Our pitching was the best it’s been this fall.”
Junior pitcher Dana Weidinger started the first game and gave up a single home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sophomore pitcher Natalie Walters came in for relief during the bottom of the fifth, allowing two hits and one run.
Senior outfielder Katie Kish led off the first game with a single, recording one of just three hits for the Chargers during the game. Senior second baseman Amanda Marra hit a single, and senior infielder Jessica Taylor hit a double, both during the top of the fourth inning.
“As a team, we hope to improve offensively in each of our individual at-bats,” Kish said.
Gross said the team will be working on hitting throughout practice leading up to their games in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 29.
“I hope we’re gonna be a little more aggressive,” Gross said. “We were a little apprehensive this weekend, there were definitely some nerves, so that’s an area coming from this first weekend with Bowling Green and going into next weekend where I hope to see our biggest improvement.”
In game two, the Chargers recorded just two hits, one by sophomore outfielder Natalie Stepanenko and the other by junior catcher Syd San Juan. They scored just one run during the bottom of the second inning.
Gross said the biggest difference between game one and game two was the execution of pitches.
“Through the first three innings of the second game, we were still executing pitches, and then it got a little tough from there,” Gross said. “Credit to Bowling Green hitters, they hit good pitches in the second game.”
Overcoming the challenges of game two, Gross said he was excited about the success of implementing new defensive plays during both games. The Chargers committed just two errors over the weekend.
“It was great seeing their reaction when the new plays worked, specifically pitchers being our cut to home plate, because it’s been new to them in practice,” Gross said. “When a team can get excited about just getting a cut, that’s pretty good.”
Gross also said he was impressed by the catchers’ performances over the weekend.
“Our catchers combined to throw out two of three base stealers and their work behind the plate was to the standard of what I will expect from them this season,” Gross said.
Freshman pitcher Camryn Olson made her collegiate pitching debut during the second game, coming in for relief of redshirt freshman pitcher Julia Sayles.
“I was nervous, obviously,” Olson said, “but having a supportive and talented team behind me made me feel better about that.”
Sophomore infielder Madison Rathbun said she felt confident about the team’s performance over the weekend.
“For at least 10 of the 14 innings we played, we were right there, and the first game could have just as easily been ours,” Rathbun said. “We have a lot to learn yet, and there were many situations this weekend which were new and educational for us.”
Junior infielder Erin Gordon said she thought the team played well for their first fall games, especially in adjusting to having eight new freshmen and a new head coach.
“I was very proud of the freshmen for embracing the opportunities they had, and it was cool to see upperclassmen getting back into the swing of things,” Gordon said.
The Chargers will play three games in Columbus at Ohio State University and said they are hoping to carry their positive energy into next weekend.
“Getting to know each other on the field is big,” Rathbun said, “so I’m just excited to get back in that jersey and compete next weekend.”