The Hillsdale Chargers relied on powerful offense Saturday, picking up two exhibition victories and recording just one loss on the road in Columbus, Ohio. The following day, the Chargers took on Division I Kent State University and tied with the Flashes.
Five players recorded home runs during the weekend, including two freshmen.
Freshman infielder Lauren Renner was overwhelmed with emotion after hitting the Chargers’ first home run of the season in their game against Miami University Hamilton on Saturday.
“It felt so good coming off the bat, and I couldn’t stop smiling,” Renner said. “It was an amazing feeling hearing my teammates cheer for me, seeing my coach so pumped up, and also unforgettable having my parents there to see my first collegiate home run.”
Head coach Kyle Gross said he knew his team had home run potential and was excited to see adjustments made during practice lead to a breakout weekend for hitters so early in the season.
“We’ve been working on things that add power to their swings, not completely changing their swings,” Gross said. “Just changing little things within their individual swing mechanics that can add power.”
Freshman Elaine Townley also hit a home run in the game against Miami University Hamilton and said she experienced similar feelings as Renner.
“I was happy to see the adjustments Coach Kyle had made on my swing we’re already working, and I felt like I had just proved to myself that I could hang with the level of play here,” Townley said. “It’s a little intimidating to come into such a talented team as a freshman and with a new coach who doesn’t know my abilities, but hitting the home run made me feel like I deserve to be a part of Hillsdale softball.”
Sophomore outfielder and pitcher Natalie Walters hit a home run in the Chargers’ game against Otterbein University and said the team did a great job adjusting to the pitchers it faced throughout the weekend.
“During the first game, our hitting turned on like a switch and it was contagious,” Walters said. “Everyone was hitting, and this carried on through the rest of the weekend.”
Senior outfielder Jessica Taylor hit two home runs and said she has never felt more confident at the plate.
“We go up there and attack, Coach Kyle keeps saying, ‘Just go up there and hack,’ which is cool, because it takes the mental side out of it,” Taylor said. “I think that’s good for our team because a lot us are thinkers.”
The Chargers took different offensive approaches to manufacture runs in each of their games.
“This weekend we did a lot of hit and runs,” Taylor said. “It was just cool to be able to try different things and see it work, especially right away, because a lot of times that doesn’t happen.”
Junior infielder Sam Catron also hit a home run during the Chargers’ game against Otterbein. Catron said the team made offensive adjustments throughout the weekend and took an aggressive approach at the plate.
“When the other team would score, we responded immediately and never let up,” Catron said. “That was great to see, and I’m really proud of our team for doing so well in this area.”
In addition to a productive weekend at the plate, Gross said the Chargers’ pitching staff had its best weekend.
“One of the biggest things we talk about is execution of pitches, one pitch at a time,” Gross said. “We charted and kept track of percentage of pitch execution, and their percentage of execution has gone up tremendously from the first week.”
The Chargers will face Jackson Community College in a doubleheader at home Saturday and Division I Toledo University Sunday.
For the upperclassmen, this upcoming weekend will give them an opportunity to play against former head coach Joe Abraham, now in his first season coaching at Toledo.
“I’m excited,” Taylor said. “We’re just gonna go out there and show Abraham what we can still do.”