Energy and excitement will propel the Hillsdale Chargers into the start of their fall season.
Senior infielder Jessica Taylor said first-year head coach Kyle Gross has already brought an abundance of enthusiasm to the team during practices.
“I’m excited that Coach Kyle is putting everything he has into coaching our team already,” Taylor said. “One of our strengths as a team is definitely gonna be that energy, because we’re gonna be bringing that to our fall games for sure.”
The Chargers will play a doubleheader against Bowling Green University on Sept. 23, giving them the opportunity to face a Division I program on the road to begin their season.
Gross is eager to get on the dirt and watch the team play in live games for the first time.
“I can’t wait to get started. Bowling Green is a great opponent for us out of the gate,” Gross said. “It’ll really give us a measuring stick to see where we stand.”
Sophomore infielder Emma Johnson said she thinks the team has come together in the past few weeks under Gross’s leadership.
“Everybody is super enthusiastic about playing, and we’re having fun,” Johnson said. “We’re really together right now, and everybody is pushing each other to get better.”
The Chargers have eight freshmen on their team and will use the fall season to help them adjust to competing at the collegiate level.
“All of the freshmen seem like they’re pretty motivated and excited to play,” Johnson said.
Freshman infielder Kasidy Carson said she is thrilled to be playing the game she loves and be a part of the unique culture of Hillsdale softball.
“The environment Hillsdale softball has created is unlike any other, and I firmly believe that, combined with hard work and determination, it will help push us toward victory,” Carson said. “Every day we step on the field or in the weight room, our goal is to be better than we were when we walked in the door.”
As the freshmen transition into their new roles, the team as a whole will also be adjusting to new systems at the plate and in the field. Gross will be implementing new strategies throughout the fall season.
“We have a new system for pitch-calling, and not a whole lot of time to work on it before we start, so that will be a challenge for our pitchers and catchers, and myself,” Gross said.
Even with the new changes, Taylor said the team has a strong pitching staff this year.
“We have four pitchers — three of them are returners — and being able to see our pitchers develop over the fall is gonna be big,” Taylor said.
In addition to solid pitching, Gross said the team has a disciplined lineup.
“We don’t strike out a lot, so we’re constantly putting the ball in play,” Gross said.
Throughout their fall season, the Chargers will face both Division I and II opponents. After playing Bowling Green, the team will travel to Columbus, Ohio for a tournament, and also host a series of exhibition games in Hillsdale.
“Since we have some games against Division I opponents, I wanna see that we compete with them and that we’re executing what we’re supposed to be doing, regardless of our competition,” Gross said.