The Hillsdale College softball team took over first place in G‑MAC’s after sweeping Trevecca Nazarene University and splitting Kentucky Wesleyan last weekend.
“Our practices this past week were more geared towards fun,” head coach Kyle Gross said. “This game is fun. We knew we were going into a huge weekend, but we wanted to make it more enjoyable than tense, and I think that played a role in how we executed this weekend.”
Saturday, April 17 (Game 1): Hillsdale, 8, Trevecca Nazarene, 0
The Chargers traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to play the number one team in the conference on Saturday. Junior Elaine Townley put the Chargers on the board in the second inning by hitting a solo home run at her first at bat.
“We saw that we could hit their team, which was important because we had some nerves going in since they were the top conference seed and we really wanted to sweep,” Townley said. “Once we saw that we could take that pitcher, we really got a rally going.”
And rally they did. The Chargers got 11 more hits and seven more runs to end the first game early and shutout the Trojans.
Senior pitcher Dana Weidinger achieved her 14th win and third shutout of the season, allowing only eight hits, two walks, and throwing one strikeout.
Saturday, April 17 (Game 2): Hillsdale, 6, Trevecca Nazarene, 5
Scoring four unanswered points in the first three innings, the Chargers continued to dominate over the Trojans.
Trevecca Nazarene fought back in the fourth and fifth inning to tie the game off of a three-run homer. However, senior Sam Catron hit a double for the Chargers in the top of the sixth to take back the momentum, and junior Renee Bielawa extended the lead to 6 – 4 with a single in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, freshman Erin Kapteyn was brought in to pitch relief for the Chargers. There was one out, runners on first and third, and the Chargers ahead 6 – 5.
“I looked over, asked Erin if she was ready, and brought her in,” Gross said. “I handed her the ball and I didn’t even say anything else to her.”
Walking the first batter, Trevecca Nazarene loaded the bases, needing only one run to tie the game.
“I don’t think I had ever been more nervous to throw three batters in my whole life,” Kapteyn said. “With the first hitter, I was warming up, shaking out my nerves, and getting comfortable on the mound. After I walked her, Catron came up and gave me a little pep talk to calm me down.”
The next two batters hit a foul-out to first base and a fly-out to centerfield, which clinched the Chargers sweep. Kapteyn achieved her first collegiate save and the Chargers walked away the top seed in G‑MAC.
Sunday, April 18 (Game 1): Hillsdale, 12, Kentucky Wesleyan, 3
The Chargers split Kentucky Wesleyan College, winning the first game and losing the second of the series.
Coming out strong, the Chargers scored two points in the top of the first inning to set the tone against the Panthers.
“Going into Kentucky, we were ready to play,” Weidinger said. “We knew they were a good team, so we brought the energy and tried to come out as strong as we could.”
In the top of the fourth inning, the Chargers took advantage of errors by Kentucky Wesleyan to score six more runs, making the contest 8 – 0. The Panthers attempted to rally and close the gap, but were unable to do so against the strong defense and pitching of Hillsdale’s team.
Sunday, April 18 (Game 2): Hillsdale, 2, Kentucky Wesleyan, 5
Starting her first conference game, Kapteyn was pitted against Kentucky Wesleyan’s ace pitcher in the second game of the series against the Panthers.
The Chargers jumped ahead in the second game, scoring two runs in the second and fourth innings. However, the Panthers got a run back in the bottom of the fourth and scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win over Hillsdale.
We tried our best, did great things, had great defense, and hit the ball,” Weidinger said. “But they just ended up winning.”
Looking towards the rest of the season, the Chargers will be playing Ursuline College on Saturday, April 24 to continue their fight to become G‑MAC champions once more.