By Greg Chandler
Extra-base power hitting proved to be the difference on Tuesday as the Hope College softball team defeated the University of Chicago, 9-4, to gain a split of a non-conference doubleheader at Wolters Stadium.
The visiting Maroons overcame an early 4-0 deficit to win the opener, 6-5.
The split left the Flying Dutch with an 18-8 overall record heading into a key Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association doubleheader on Thursday at Saint Mary's (Indiana) College. First pitch is scheduled 3 p.m.
In the nightcap, Hope wasted little time jumping on the Maroons, exploding for five runs in the first inning, highlighted by a pair of two-run doubles.
Freshman first baseman Kaelin Callow of Plainfield, Illinois (Plainfield HS), pictured left, socked a double to left to score senior designated player Shay Pinney of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer HS) and sophomore shortstop Savannah Dixon of Niles, Michigan (Edwardsburg HS, pictured right, to give the Flying Dutch a 2-1 lead.
Callow scored on an RBI single to left by sophomore center fielder Jo Cook of Birch Run, Michigan (Birch Run HS). Sophomore starting pitcher Megan Soderbloom of Dowagiac, Michigan (Dowagiac Union HS) capped the uprising with a two-run double to center, giving the Flying Dutch a 5-1 lead.
After Chicago scored two runs in the top of the second, Hope responded with a single run in the bottom of the frame when sophomore second baseman Arinn King of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) doubled, took third on a groundout and scored on a bunt single by Callow.
The Maroons picked up a single run in the sixth to cut the Hope lead to 6-4, but the Flying Dutch iced the win in the bottom of the inning when Dixon here belted fifth home run of the season, a three-run shot to left that was preceded by a pair of walks. She now has a team-high 36 RBIs for the season.
"We have a lot of confidence in Savannah, and I know every time she steps in the box she's got confidence in herself," head coach Mary VandeHoef said. "Her competitiveness is something that our team responds to. She's come up with a lot of timely hits for us."
Sophomore pitcher Maddie Nise of Caledonia, Michigan (Caledonia HS) came on in relief in the third inning and picked up the win with 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball. She allowed three hits and striking out two. She improved her record to 2-1 on the season.
"It was nice to see the offense have a response and get us out in front, but our pitchers did a really nice job keeping us in that second (game)," VandeHoef said.
In the opener, Hope jumped out to a 4-0 lead with two runs in the second and two more in the third. Senior left fielder Noelle Jackson of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Grand Blanc HS) opened the scoring with an RBI single, plating sophomore catcher Morgann Kanouse of Cadillac, Michigan (Cadillac HS). Jackson came around to score on a single to right by freshman pitcher Chloe Haskins of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton HS).
In the third, Hope added to its lead when King walked, advanced to third on a single by Callow, and scored on an errant throw by the Chicago catcher while Callow stole second. Cook later hit a sacrifice fly to score Callow.
Haskins kept the Maroons scoreless through four innings, but Chicago broke through for five runs in the fifth to take the lead. First baseman Katie O'Connell hit a go-ahead grand slam to cap the rally. The Maroons added a single run in the sixth for a 6-4 advantage.
The Flying Dutch made a bid to force extra innings in the seventh. Dixon led off with a single, moved to second on a one-out single by Kanouse, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a wild pitch. But the Maroons stranded the potential tying run at third with a game-ending strikeout.