Centerfielder Noelle Jackson loves what the Hope College softball team can do at the plate — from the top of the bottom of the lineup, and with each of the nine batters.
The 17th-ranked Flying Dutch used all of the facets of their offensive game to take Game 1 of the NCAA Division III Holland, Michigan Regional championship game from Calvin College 9-6 on Monday.
Photo of Sierra Mutschler, left, by Tom Renner
Five different Flying Dutch contributed RBIs as Hope scored the most runs by a Calvin opponent this season.
Jackson led the 10-hit attack. The sophomore from Grand Blanc, Michigan (Grand Blanc HS) celebrated her birthday by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
"I think everyone on this team can do everything," Jackson said. "We can bunt. We can hit. We can score any way we want to. I think we have depth within every individual, not just one part of our lineup. Everyone can do something special for us."
In the top of the second, Jackson followed an RBI bunt double by shortstop Savannah Dixon by smacking a two-run double to centerfield that plated Dixon and pinch-runner Alex Ebert of Naperville, Illinois (Neuqua Valley).
Jackson then gave Hope a 4-1 lead when she scored following a Calvin throwing error during a pickoff attempt.
Calvin answered with a four-run third inning, but the Flying Dutch quickly regained the lead.
Jackson tripled to right field and knocked home Dixon. Jackson then scored on an infield single by rightfielder Amanda Diaz of Mundelein, Illinois (Mundelein). Pinch-runner Alex Knorp of Livonia, Michigan (Stevenson) extended Hope's lead to 8-5 by coming home on a groundout by first baseman Shay Pinhey of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer).
Pitcher Sydney Jones of South Lyon, Michigan (East) then entered in relief for the Flying Dutch. She scattered two hits and one run over the final four innings to claim her 19th victory of the season.
Jones (19-5) struck out to become the first Hope pitcher to reach 700 career strikeouts.
Dixon added an RBI double in the fifth that plated second baseman Sierra Mutschler of Wayland, Michigan (Wayland).
Mutschler closed the scoring with a run-scoring single in the seventh to score leftfielder Jo Cook of Birch Run, Michigan (Birch Run).