After earning four more conference wins, the Hillsdale College Chargers improved their record to 15 – 16 with a seven-game winning streak. The Chargers recorded 50 hits over the weekend and the top their order had impressive performances.
Head coach Kyle Gross said he’s excited to see the offense continue to be nonstop.
“Every inning I go down there to third base, and it doesn’t matter where we start in the lineup, we’re going to go six or seven batters an inning because two or three of them will get a hit,” Gross said.
Senior outfielder Katie Kish went 8 for 14 and had five RBI on the weekend. Senior second baseman Amanda Marra went 9 for 13 and earned five RBI throughout the weekend. Junior shortstop Sam Catron went 7 for 13, picking up nine RBI on the weekend.
Catron said she focused on one pitch at a time.
“I wasn’t really looking for a double or home run,” Catron said. “I was just focused on hitting the ball and getting solid contact to produce for the team.”
The Chargers’ pitching staff also had an impressive showing with freshmen pitchers Julia Sayles and Camryn Olson each earning their first wins of the season.
Gross said he was most impressed with Sayles’ consistency in the circle.
“She has performed well at practices all year,” Gross said. “It was awesome to see her put that together in a game and be dominant.”
After a shutout from Olson, Gross said she’s taking the steps to become a starting pitcher.
“As a freshman, you come in and there’s a lot of things to learn,” Gross said. “She’s already a seasoned pitcher halfway through the season.”
Friday, April 5 (Game 1): Hillsdale 6, Malone 5
Sayles made her debut appearance at home, pitching five innings and leading the Chargers in their win over the University of Malone Pioneers. The Chargers took an early lead, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning with a single from Catron to score Kish.
During the top of the second inning, the Pioneers fought back, scoring five unearned runs off of junior pitcher Dana Wedinger. Sayles came in for relief at the top of the third inning. Catron gave the Chargers another run in the bottom of the third inning with a double, scoring sophomore outfielder Sarah Wojcik.
The Chargers scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game. Freshman outfielder Renee Bielawa doubled to right center, scoring freshman outfielder Reagan Gensiejewski. Senior second baseman hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring sophomore first baseman Emma Johnson, and Catron singled to centerfield to score Bielawa.
With a tie game going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Catron picked up her fourth RBI of the game with a double to left field to score Kish and win the game. Sayles faced 18 batters in five innings and gave up just three hits.
Sayles said she approached the game with confidence and focused on delivering strikes, trusting her defense. She used her drop ball and curveball to keep hitters off balance.
“If you can get weak ground balls, your defense behind you can do the work and gets out,” Sayles said.
Friday, April 5 (Game 2): Hillsdale 8, Malone 6
Sophomore pitcher Natalie Walters earned her eighth win of the season in the Chargers second game against the Pioneers. The Chargers gained another early lead, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning with a single from Catron to score Marra.
During the bottom of the second inning, Kish doubled to left center, scoring Johnson, and Marra singled to right field to score Kish. The Pioneers scored one run in the top of the third, but the Chargers would three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Catron hit a two-run home run, scoring herself and Marra.
Sophomore catcher Madison Stoner hit a single up the middle to score senior third baseman Jessica Taylor. In the top of the sixth inning, Marra doubled to right-center to score freshman infielder Morgan Cox, and Walters singled to center, scoring Marra. Walters gave up five runs – – all of which were unearned – – in the top of the seventh inning but secured the victory. She faced 35 batters in seven innings and gave up six runs on nine hits.
Gross said the Chargers will be working on having a better approach in the seventh inning when they have a big lead.
“The pitching went away for just a short bit,” Gross said. “We’re definitely going to talk about just being consistent.”
Saturday, April 6 (Game 1): Hillsdale 9, Walsh 0 (5 innings)
The Chargers’ offense came up big in their first win over the Walsh University Cavaliers. In the bottom of the second inning, Kish singled to center field, scoring Stoner and freshman outfielder Anna Dixon. Junior outfielder Victoria Addis came in to pinch hit for Wojcik during the bottom of the third inning and hit a double down the right field line to score Walters and Taylor.
Gross said Addis had been hitting very well all week.
“That pitcher was a very good matchup for her,” Gross said. “And it gave her a good opportunity, she came through huge.”
Johnson scored later that inning on a wild pitch, and Kish hit another single up the middle, scoring Addis. During the bottom of the fourth inning, Taylor doubled to center field to score Carlin MacDonald Gannon, and Stoner singled center field scoring Taylor and freshman infielder Kasidy Carson. Olson pitched all five innings for the Chargers and picked up her first win of the season. She faced 20 batters and allowed just five hits.
Olson said she focused on pitch execution throughout the game.
“I was just focused on letting my defense work and not trying to strike everyone out,” Olson said.
Saturday, April 6 (Game 2): Hillsdale 9, Walsh 7
After giving up four runs in the top of the seventh inning, the Chargers managed to pick up another conference victory in their second game with the Cavaliers. In the top of the first inning, the Cavaliers jumped on the board early with a two-run homerun.
The Chargers answered in the bottom of the second inning with a single from Kish to score Walters followed by a double from Marra, scoring Kish and Johnson. Catron also singled to right center, allowing Marra to score. The Cavaliers scored again in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run.
During the bottom half of the fifth, Johnson doubled to left field to score MacDonald Gannon, and junior catcher Sydney San Juan singled to right field scoring Johnson and Gensiejewski. In the top of the sixth inning, Catron doubled to left field, scoring Marra, and Taylor doubled to right center to score Catron.
The Cavaliers scored four in the top of the seventh on a two-run home run, RBI single, and Walters walked in a run. Walters started in the circle, but junior pitcher Dana Weidinger came in for relief during the middle of the fourth inning. Olson came in to pitch during the middle of the fifth inning, but Walters came back into the circle in the middle of the seventh inning to finish the game.
After giving up significant runs in the seventh inning for the second day in a row, Gross said the team will be working on the little things to finish the game.
“There wasn’t a total meltdown or anything like that, it just goes back consistency,” Gross said. “We had very good defense all weekend.”
The Chargers will face Saginaw Valley State in a doubleheader at home on Friday, April 12 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. On Saturday, April 13, the Chargers will travel to TIffin University for two games at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Hillsdale will extend its weekend on the road, taking on Alderson Broaddus University in a doubleheader on Monday, April 15 at 3:30 p.m and 5:30 p.m. The next day, the Charger will play two more games with Davis and Elkins University at 12:00 p.m and 2:30 p.m.
Gross said he hopes the Chargers will keep playing with high energy.
“We are running at a really fast pace,” Gross said. “And it’s not easy to keep up with that pace, and I want to see them to be able to continue that.”
Both Catron and Olson said the team will be facing tough competition throughout the weekend.
“We just want to keep the momentum going,” Olson said.