After a tough loss on Sunday that began a four-game road trip, the Hillsdale College Chargers bounced back to win three consecutive games on the road. Hillsdale improved its record to 11 – 16 overall and 5 – 3 in the G‑MAC.
Head coach Kyle Gross said the team took care of the little things over the weekend.
“It was impressive to see this team go from its first run-rule loss of the season to its first three-game win streak,” Gross said.
Freshman outfielder Renee Bielawa went 2 for 4 in the Chargers’ second game against Kentucky Wesleyan.
“I was just focusing on certain pitches and attacking them,” Bielawa said.
Sophomore first baseman Emma Johnson went 4 for 4 in the Chargers’ first game against Trevecca Nazarene University on Monday. Johnson said she simplified her approach at the plate.
“I’ve been thinking too much,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to see a good pitch and hit it.”
In game two against Trevecca Nazarene, sophomore catcher Madison Stoner went 2 for 2 with three runs batted and two walks.
“I was looking for a pitch I can hit because previously, I had been swinging at anything that was relatively close,” Stoner said. “I was really just hunting strikes.”
Sunday, March 31 (Game 1): Kentucky Wesleyan 10, Hillsdale 2 (5 innings)
The Chargers began their weekend with a swift loss to Kentucky Wesleyan. The Panthers took the lead early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Hillsdale responded in the top of the second, picking up its only two runs in the game. Senior outfielder Katie Kish singled down the left field line, scoring Stoner and senior third baseman Jessica Taylor.
The Panthers’ offense overpowered the Chargers’ pitching, scoring one run in the bottom of the second, three runs in the bottom of the third, and four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Down by eight runs after the fourth inning, the Chargers were unable to respond, and the game ended in five innings.
Sunday, March 31 (Game 2): Hillsdale 6, Kentucky Wesleyan 2
After a slow start, the Chargers picked up their first victory of the weekend in game two.
“We struggled a little bit in our first game with Kentucky,” Stoner said. “But then we flipped a switch and really turned our offense on.”
The Chargers got on the board first, scoring two runs in the top of the third inning. Senior second baseman Amanda Marra singled to the shortstop and junior outfielder Carlin MacDonald Gannon scored. Taylor doubled to left, scoring Kish.
During the bottom of the third, the Panthers scored one run, but the Chargers answered, scoring two more runs in the top of the fourth. The Chargers scored another pair of runs in the top of the fifth.
Walters started in the circle for the Chargers and picked up her fifth win of the year. She faced 33 batters in seven innings, allowing two runs on nine hits.
Monday, April 1 (Game 1): Hillsdale 10, Trevecca Nazarene 9 (8 innings)
The Chargers earned their first extra-innings win of the year in game one against the Trojans. Hillsdale took the lead early, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Taylor singled to the right side to score Marra, and Walters scored on a wild pitch.
Down by two runs going into the top of the fifth, the Chargers tied the game with a single from Marra, scoring Johnson followed by a single from Catron, scoring Kish. A hard-hit ball from Walters scored Marra, putting the Chargers ahead by one.
The Trojans came back to score one run in the bottom of the sixth but would not score again. Stoner homered to left field in the top of the eighth to give the Chargers the lead. She said she felt pure joy after hitting her solo shot.
“I sprinted around the bases because I was so excited,” Stoner said.
All four pitchers on Hillsdale’s staff saw action in the first game against the Trojans. Weidinger got the start, facing 20 batters in 3 1/3 innings. She allowed seven runs on eight hits. Olson faced four batters, allowing one run on two hits.
Freshman pitcher Julia Sayles made her first appearance in conference play. She faced 13 batters in 2 1/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits. Walters earned the save in the circle. She faced six batters and gave up one hit.
Gross said the game personified what the pitching staff talked about doing since the beginning of the season.
“We talked very early on that it was going to be a year of the staff,” Gross said. “Everybody’s going to play a part at times and do their job.”
Monday, April 1 (Game 2): Hillsdale 7, Trevecca Nazarene 6
Walters earned her seventh win of the season in the Chargers’ second game against the Trojans. She faced 32 batters in seven innings and gave up six runs on nine hits.
“She’s worked hard on not only the physical part of pitching, but also her mentality,” Gross said of Walters. “It’s showing on the field.”
Walters helped herself at the plate, doubling to left field in the top of the first inning to score Kish. Also during the first inning, Stoner singled through the right side, scoring Walters and Catron to give the Chargers an early three-run lead.
The Trojans threatened in the bottom of the sixth with a grand slam from a pinch hit by junior Caitlyn Hudgins, but the Chargers held on to their lead through seven innings.
Hillsdale will host Malone and Walsh Universities this weekend for a four-game homestand. The Chargers will play Malone tomorrow at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., and Walsh on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. Senior Day was originally scheduled for the Chargers’ games against Walsh, but it has been moved to Saturday, April 20 in their games against Ursuline College.
Stoner said the team is looking to pick up four more wins this weekend.
“If our offense stays strong, we should be fine,” Stoner said.