Softball Splits On First Day of MIAA Tournament, Remains In The Hunt

By Eva Dean Folkert

With a split on the first day of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association double-elimination softball tournament, the Flying Dutch remain alive and take good momentum with them into Saturday's continuing action. Though they narrowly lost their tournament opener, 3-1, to Calvin College, Hope bounced back nicely in their second game to defeat Alma College, 12-4, in six innings.

Hope (26-9 overall) moves forward in the tournament's back draw to take on the Calvin Knights once again at 12:00 pm on Saturday, May 5, at host Saint Mary's College. The winner of that game will advance to play Saint Mary's in the title round.

2018 MIAA Softball Championship Website

Game One of the tournament was a classic pitcher's duel between Hope's Sydney Jones of South Lyon, Michigan (South Lyon East HS) and Calvin's Anna Gernant. The duo kept the game scoreless through the first three innings until Hope senior slugger Sierra Mutschler of Wayland, Michigan (Wayland HS) solo-homered to rightfield to give Hope at 1-0 in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Calvin's Grace Stock answered with a rightfield solo homer of her own. Calvin would score one more time in the inning when Gernant, who had singled and moved to second on a Kaley Frank single, was driven in with an RBI single by Kayla Groen. After four, the score was 2-1.

The Knights added an insurance run in the sixth when pinch runner Kimiko Hinatsu scored on a sacrifice fly by Groen for the 3-1 final score.

Hope senior Jones (14-4) took the loss while giving up seven hits and three earned runs while striking out six and walking one. Winning pitcher Gernant (12-3) allowed four hits, one earned run, struck out eight and walked one.

In Hope's second tournament game against Alma, Morgann Kanouse of Cadillac, Michigan (Cadillac HS), pictured, performed perfectly at the plate, favoring the number three to Hope's advantage. The freshman third baseman went 3-for-3, had three RBIs, and scored three runs as well. In doing so, she had a hand in scoring half of Hope's 12 runs. 

The game's scoring seesawed back and forth between the two teams through the first four-and-a-half innings when the score was tied 4-4. In the bottom of the fifth and sixth, though, Hope broke the game open by scoring four runs in each of those innings, and Alma would never score again, causing the game to end with the eight-run mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth.

Besides Kanouse's outstanding offensive output which included two doubles in her three hits, the Flying Dutch also got two hits each from senior Hayley Reitsma of Grand Rapids, Michigan (GR Christian HS), including a double, and sophomore Amanda Diaz of Mundelein, Illinois (Mundelein HS). Mutschler and junior Shay Piney of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer HS) also had two RBIs each.

Hope's full team hitting effort totaled 12 hits by eight different players.

On the mound, senior Katie Singer (10-4) of Howell, Michigan (Hartland HS) earned the win. She pitched four innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, struck out one and walked three. 

Sophomore Tena Baar of Byron Center, Michigan (Byron Center HS) finished the game on the mound, pitching two innings in relief. She gave up two hits and struck out three.

Alma used three different pitchers but starter Mary Brooks (10-5) was credited with the loss.

"To see some different parts of our lineup produce in the Alma game was really important," said head coach Mary VandeHoef. "But everyone executed well and made things happen and we took advantage of a couple mistakes that were pretty costly (for Alma).

"I thought we played with confidence and played loose even though there can be a tendency to play a little bit tight since it's potentially an elimination game. I told the team that that back and forth scoring helps us gain that toughness and find ways to compete. It helps us down the road and it could help us tomorrow to stay in it."

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