by Eva Dean Folkert
The Hope College softball team ran into two opponents who already have a significant number of games under their belts for 2019 season. The Flying Dutch, whose season is just four games old on the second day of their spring break trip, lost to Lake Forest College (Illinois), 5-4, and Linfield College (Oregon), 8-1, on Saturday.
Hope now have a record of 2-2 on their young season. Lake Forest moved to 7-7 while Linfield is 12-2-1.
"That's the nature of the spring break trip, and it is a unique aspect of being a spring sport. We played Millsaps on Friday in our 2nd game, and it was their 22nd," said head coach Mary VandeHooef. "That doesn't happen in sports outside of baseball or softball. You often face some teams early who are on the tail end of their break or who are from warm weather states and you have to deal with that. It can work to your advantage or disadvantage so it can never be an excuse."
In the day's first game against Lake Forest, Hope used a four-run sixth inning to pull even with the Foresters, 4-4. Sophomore centerfielder Jo Cook of Birch Run (Birch Run HS) was responsible for two RBIs by drilling a triple to left center that scored senior third baseman Shay Pinhey of Ann Arbor (Pioneer HS) and junior rightfielder Jordyn Diaz of Naperville, Illinois (Neuqua Valley HS), who got on the base paths with singles each.
Sophomore shortstop Savannah Dixon of Niles (Edwardsburg HS), pictured, followed next, hammering a triple of her own to right field, scoring Cook. Dixon ended Flying Dutch scoring in the top of the sixth by coming home on a wild pitch.
The Foresters used their last at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning to their advantage and won the game on a walk-off single by Nicole Schussler, whose third hit of the day brought home the winning run scored by teammate Josie Klein.
Hope had four hits in the game, all of them coming in that rallying sixth inning.
Freshman pitcher Avery Slancik of Scotts (Vicksburg HS) started the game and pitched two innings, giving up four hits and four runs while striking out two. Freshman Janelle Baar of Byron Center (Byron Center HS) came in to pitch in the middle three innings, allowing no runs and two hits. Freshman pitcher Chloe Haskins of Brighton (Brighton HS) took the loss in relief, having entered the game in the sixth to hold the Foerster's scoreless until the decisive seventh inning.
In its second contest of the day against Linfield, Hope trailed the entire game while facing an undefeated pitcher in Wildcat Tanna Benson who had a complete game and moved her record to 7-0.
The Flying Dutch recorded just two hits against Benson, a double by freshman Arinn King of Hudsonville (Hudsonville HS) that scored sophomore Morgann Kanouse of Cadillac (Cadillac HS). Kanouse had reached on a single. That fifth inning burst was all of Hope's offense for the game that made the score, 7-1, at that point. Linfield scored one more run in the top of the seventh for the final score of 8-1.
Three Flying Dutch pitchers faced the Wildcats: Sophomore Maddie Nise of Caledonia (Caledonia HS) started the game and allowed one hit and three runs. She was the pitcher of record. Haskins came in in middle relief and gave up three hits and four runs while sophomore Megan Soderbloom of Dowagiac (Dowagiac HS) ended the game on the mound, giving up one run on two hits.
Hope has a day of rest tomorrow and returns to action on Monday, March 18 in Clermont, Florida. At 11:45 a.m., the Flying Dutch play Concordia-Wisconsin, and at 1:30 p.m., they take on Wisconsin-Stevens Point.