Amanda Marra waits for a pitch against Kent State on Sunday Sept. 30 in an exhi­bition at Hillsdale High School. Julia Mullins | Col­legian

The Hillsdale softball team fell 7 – 4 to Division I Toledo Uni­versity, who is lead by former head coach Joe Abraham and former assistant coach Jim Zoltowski, whom the Chargers call “Z”, in an exhi­bition game Oct. 7.

For the upper­classmen, this was their first time playing against Abraham. Senior infielder Amanda Marra said she felt a little strange at first.

“I played for coach Joe for 3 years, so being on the same field with him but on opposing sides was a strange feeling,” Marra said. “I under­stand how he thinks about the strategy of the game though, so it was fun trying to guess what signs he was going to give or how he was going to position his players.”

Senior out­fielder Katie Kish had similar feelings throughout the game.

“It was odd seeing another team do what we had always been used to doing in the past, like the pregame huddle, running the ball in to the pitcher from the out­field, and Z calling pitches against us,” Kish said, “but it was a very friendly atmos­phere and we all enjoyed com­peting against them.”

In the top of the first inning, the Chargers scored early.

“Offen­sively, we scored with two outs, and we hit a lot of line drives at players,” Head Coach Kyle Gross said. “Our offensive approach did not change because we were playing Toledo, and that was good to see, and it was suc­cessful again.”

The Chargers were unable to maintain their lead due to a couple of errors throughout the game.

“We didn’t have our best defensive outing,” Gross said. “But no matter who was in there, we still exe­cuted plays and did things.”

Abraham and Zoltowski were not the only familiar faces in Toledo’s dugout.

The Chargers faced former teammate Erin Hunt in the pitching circle as well.

“I was so excited to get the chance to hit off of Erin,” Kish said. “It was weird at first, but I gave her a peace sign and it was like nothing ever changed and it was just another intrasquad.”

Marra said she remem­bered hitting off of Hunt last year and felt pre­pared for her at-bat.

“I know the types of pitches she likes to throw and how she nor­mally sets up hitters, so I felt pretty con­fident in the box,” Marra said. “I just had to keep telling myself to lay off the rise ball.”

The Chargers found ways to man­u­facture runs throughout the game. Junior out­fielder Vic­toria Addis said she was happy with the team’s offense this fall season.

“We’re more aggressive than we’ve been in the past,” Addis said. “We’re swinging at first pitches, in sit­u­a­tions where we never would have.”

Junior out­fielder Carlin Mac­Donald-Gannon said she has never felt more con­fident at the plate.

“We’ve been pretty dis­ci­plined at the plate,” Gannon said. “Even if we’re not getting on base, all of our players are having good at bats.”

Both Addis and Gannon said they have developed more power and con­sis­tency within their swings through Gross’ coaching style.

“Coach Kyle is really strong with hitting tech­nique and power,” Addis said. “I know he has a lot he wants to work on with everyone’s power, and we’re gonna have really strong hitters.”

Freshman Morgan Cox said she loves Gross’ coaching style and has enjoyed her first fall season as a Charger.

“I love absolutely every­thing about the team; the girls, the lifestyle, the friend­ships,” Cox said. “I can’t imagine being any­where else playing with anyone else.”

Gross said the team will be working on improving its offensive power and defensive strategy over the fall and winter months.

“Our pitchers are gonna con­tinue to work exe­cution, that will be important,” Gross said. “We’re gonna work on overall strength of our team in the weightroom and refining some defensive tech­niques.”

Marra echoed Gross and said she is opti­mistic about the spring season.

“I’m excited to see how much we’ll con­tinue to improve over the winter,” Marra said. “Our team has a rep­u­tation to uphold from last season, and I am con­fident that we will be able to achieve an even higher level of success this season.”

The Chargers also played Jackson Com­munity College Oct. 9 in two exhi­bition games and defeated the Jets with scores of 4 – 3 and 11 – 0.