The Hillsdale College Chargers went 4 – 10 during their spring break trip to Clermont, Florida.
“Our record doesn’t reflect how well we played,” head coach Kyle Gross said. “The wins were just kind of elusive. We lost several games by one run and had three extra-inning games, so we just have to work a little harder to win those games.”
During the trip, sophomore outfielder Natalie Stepanenko went 11 for 22 and junior infielder Sam Catron hit two home runs.
Stepanenko said the team chemistry is very strong right now.
“I’ve never been on a team so charged during games and willing to fight for each other,” Stepanenko said. “I was so impressed with how we responded to the adversity of some tough losses at the beginning of the week.”
Freshman outfielder Reagan Gensiejewski said the pitchers looked great all week, and the team will be working on improving their offense in two-out situations leading up to conference games.
“The team is having great quality at bats,” Gensiejewski said. “We are excited to string hits together and produce more runs.”
March 8: Ashland 4, Hillsdale 0
Junior pitcher Dana Weidinger faced 34 batters in seven innings, giving up eight hits and four unearned runs. The Ashland Eagles’ offense put pressure on the Chargers, scoring three runs in the top of the fourth inning and one run in the top of the seventh, all of which were unearned.
“For the unearned runs, there is always room for improvement and we will be working to make our defense stronger throughout the season,” Gensiejewski said.
The Chargers picked up just two hits. Senior infielder Jessica Taylor hit a double down the left field line in the bottom of the third inning, and sophomore catcher Madison Stoner singled to right center in the bottom of the fourth inning.
March 8: #8 Grand Valley State 2, Hillsdale 1
With just two hits in their second game of the day, the Chargers fell short against the No. 11 Grand Valley State University Lakers. The Lakers took an early lead, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning. During the top of the third inning, senior outfielder Katie Kish singled to left field, and Catron singled to right field, scoring sophomore outfielder Sarah Wojcik for the team’s lone run on the day. Junior catcher Syd San Juan singled to left field in the top of the fifth, but the Chargers couldn’t outscore the Lakers. Grand Valley scored one run in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the game. Sophomore Natalie Walters pitched 6.1 innings for the Chargers, giving up just five hits and two runs.
March 9: Concord 3, Hillsdale 2
Freshman pitcher Julia Sayles got the start on the mound facing 15 batters, giving up two hits, and no runs. With bases loaded and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Walters replaced Sayles on the mound, but walked in the first run of the game for the Concord University Mountain Lions. Nine pitches later, Concord scored another run on a wild pitch. Concord went on to score an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning. Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Chargers were down by three runs. Stepanenko pinch hit for junior outfielder Victoria Addis and singled to start the inning. Stepanenko stole second base, but freshman infielder Morgan Cox flied out to left field for the first out of the inning. Kish singled, and Stepanenko advanced to third base. Senior infielder Amanda Marra singled to score Stepanenko giving the Chargers their first run of the day. Taylor hit a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Kish and narrowing the deficit. Catron flied out to left field to end the game.
March 9: Drury 4, Hillsdale 3 (8 innings)
In their second loss of the day, the Chargers fell to the Drury University Panthers in extra innings. The Panthers scored early, picking up two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore infielder Emma Johnson singled in the top of the fifth inning to score Walters. Later in the fifth inning, Johnson scored on an error by Drury’s second baseman. With a tie game at the end of seven innings, the international tiebreaker rule was put into effect at the start of the eighth inning. Kish, who was the third out in the seventh inning, was placed on second base at the start of the inning. Kish advanced to third with a ground out from San Juan and Taylor walked. Stoner singled and Kish scored an unearned run, giving the Chargers the lead. The Panthers answered with a double to score the runner placed on second followed by a single to score the winning run. Both of the Panthers’ runs in the bottom of the eighth inning were unearned.
March 10: California University of Pennsylvania 5, Hillsdale 0
With just three hits in the game, the Chargers fell to the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans during their first game on Sunday. The Vulcans took an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning and one run in the top of the second inning. During the bottom of the third inning, freshman outfielder Anna Dixon singled, picking up the Chargers’ first hit of the day. In the top of the fourth inning, the Vulcans went on to score another run. Freshman infielder Lauren Renner and Walters had back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Chargers couldn’t manufacture a run. Walters started on the mound for the Chargers, facing 17 batters in three innings, allowing five hits and four runs. Sayles came in to pitch at the top of the fourth inning. She faced seven batters, allowed three hits and one run. Weidinger pitched the final three innings of the game, allowing just one hit and no runs.
March 10: Hillsdale 2, Pittsburgh-Johnstown 0
The Chargers picked up their first win of the week against The University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Mountain Cats. Weidinger dominated on the mound, pitching a complete game and allowing four hits and no runs against 26 batters. The Chargers picked up eight hits in their second game of the day and came up big in the top of the seventh inning to win the game. Renner led off the top of the seventh inning with a double, and junior outfielder Carlin MacDonald-Gannon came in to pinch run for Renner. Taylor pinch hit for freshman infielder Elaine Townely and hit a single. Marra singled, and MacDonald-Gannon scored the Chargers’ first run of the day. Later in the inning, Cox scored on a passed ball.
March 12: Hillsdale 6, Florida Southern 2
Freshman pitcher Camryn Olson got the start on the mound for the Chargers and pitched 4.2 innings. Olson gave up three hits and two runs. The Florida Southern College Mocs scored one run in the bottom of the first inning and the bottom of the fifth inning. The Chargers earned eight hits on the day and earned their first two runs of the game in the top of the third inning with a single by Marra that scored Stepanenko and Johnson. During the sixth inning, Cox scored on a throwing error, and MacDonald-Gannon scored on a sacrifice fly from Townley. The Chargers earned two more runs in the seventh inning after Stoner singled to the left side, scoring Kish and freshman utility Renee Bielawa. Walters came in to pitch for relief during the bottom of the fifth inning, allowing just two hits to earn the win.
March 12: Florida Southern 5, Hillsdale 2
Despite picking up 13 hits in their second game against Florida Southern, the Chargers fell because of four fielding errors that allowed the Mocs to score five unearned runs.
“It seemed like the ball just didn’t go our way a lot, between poorly timed errors and a good amount of walks,” Stepanenko said. “The defense and pitching could have been better about making up for each other’s struggles, but I know that’ll come as the season progresses.”
Weidinger pitched the first three innings of the game and gave up six hits and three unearned runs. Walters pitched the final three innings and gave up just one hit but allowed one unearned run in the bottom of the fourth inning and another unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Chargers scored their only two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Kish singled to left field to score Dixon, and Marra singled down the right field line to score Johnson.
March 13: Minnesota-Duluth 4, Hillsdale 1
Sayles got the start in the circle for the Chargers but gave up three hits and three runs within the first seven batters of the game. Walters pitched the remaining 6.2 innings and gave up five hits and one run. The Chargers’ lone run came from a single to center field by Kish to score Stoner. Both teams had eight hits. Despite four fielding errors committed by the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the Chargers only produced one run.
March 13: Lock Haven 4, Hillsdale 3 (8 innings)
In another game that went into extra innings, the Chargers fell to the Lock Haven University Bald Eagles. Olson got the start in the circle for the Chargers. She faced 30 batters in 7.1 innings, giving up ten hits and four runs. The Bald Eagles got on the board early, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning and again in the bottom of the fourth inning. Hillsdale waited to respond until the top of the seventh. Taylor singled to left field to score MacDonald-Gannon, and Johnson doubled to right field to score Townley. With a tie game at the end of seven innings, the international tiebreaker rule was put into effect. Wojcik, who was the third out in the seventh inning, was placed on second base at the start of the inning. Gensiejewski popped up to the second baseman for the first out of the inning. Marra popped up to the right fielder for a fast two outs, but Wojcik advanced to third base. Rathbun reached first on an error by Lock Haven’s center-fielder and Wojcik scored an unearned run. Addis reached first on an error by the third baseman, and Rathbun advanced to second base. Dixon struck out swinging for the third out. The Bald Eagles scored two runs on a single to win the game.
March 14: Hillsdale 6, Holy Family 1
The Chargers’ powerful offense drove them to a win over the Holy Family University Tigers. Recording ten hits, the Chargers scored early to take the lead in the top of the first inning, as Catron singled to right center to score Kish and Marra. During the top of the second inning, Marra singled to the left side to score senior outfielder Carly Gouge, and Johnson singled to center field scoring Stepanenko. Johnson singled again in the top of the fourth inning to score Kish. Later in the fourth, Stoner flied out to right field for a sacrifice fly scoring Marra. The Tigers scored their lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning with a single to right field. Weidinger faced 23 batters in six innings. She allowed just two hits and one run. Sayles pitched the seventh inning and faced just three batters.
March 14: Ferris State 6, Hillsdale 4
Despite 12 hits, two of which were home runs, the Chargers suffered a loss in their game against the Ferris State University Bulldogs. The Bulldogs scored two runs in the top of the first with a two-run home run from Lexi Hongisto. Walters responded for the Chargers in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to left field, but the Bulldogs answered back in the top of the third with another home run. During the top of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs scored two more runs. Hongisto hit another solo home run to left field in the top of the fifth inning. Dixon singled to right field to score Stepanenko in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Chargers a second run. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Catron hit a solo run to center field. Walters flied out for a sacrifice fly to score Wojcik in the bottom of the seventh inning.
March 16: #15 Wayne State 4, Hillsdale 3 (8 innings)
In their third game of the trip that went into extra innings, the Chargers fell to the Wayne State University Warriors. In the bottom of the second inning, Stoner doubled down the left field line to score Taylor for their first run of the game. The Warriors answered back, scoring two runs in the top of the third inning. Catron homered to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game. Marra singled to left in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Kish, giving the Chargers the lead. The Warriors scored again in the top of the seventh to tie the game. The international tiebreaker rule was put into effect at the start of the eighth inning. The Warriors scored one run in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead. Marra, who was the third out in the seventh inning, was placed on second base at the start of the inning for the Chargers. The Chargers went through three outs in their first three batters and couldn’t score Marra. Dixon flied out to left field for the first out. Johnson flied out to right center for the second out. Catron grounded out to the first baseman to end the game. Weidinger pitched the entire game. She faced 37 batters, allowed 12 hits, and four runs.
March 16: Hillsdale 4, Indiana University of Pennsylvania 3
The Chargers concluded their spring break trip with a win over the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Hawks. Johnson gave the Chargers an early lead with a single to score Marra in the top of the first inning. The Hawks answered back scoring one run in the bottom of the second inning and then another run in the bottom of the third inning. During the top of the fourth inning, Gensiejewski singled to score Catron, and Kish tripled to score Gensiejewski and Taylor. The Hawks scored just one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowing the Chargers to keep their lead. Olson got the start on the mound for the Chargers. In two innings, she faced 10 batters, gave up four hits and one run. Sayles came in to pitch one inning, allowing four hits and one run. Walters came in for relief. In four innings, she faced 17 batters, allowed one hit and one run.
The Chargers will begin conference play at home on Saturday with a doubleheader against Ohio Dominican University at 1 and 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Chargers will face Ohio Valley University at home in a doubleheader at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
Gross said Ohio Dominican is one of the best teams in the conference.
“Their record also doesn’t reflect how good of a team they are,” Gross said. “They played some tough competition just as we have. It’s the first series of year, and it’s going to be a fun one. I’m glad we’re at home for it.”
Stepanenko said the team is hoping to bring the energy they gained in Florida back to home.
“I can’t wait to bring the cheers and the rally caps to Hillsdale and show our opponents how much fight we have,” Stepanenko said.
Gross added that the team has learned a lot over spring break.
“We’ve worked hard,” Gross said. “We’re ready to play conference now.”