Playing for keeps against the North(land)

The softball team starts the season off right with a doubleheader sweep against Northland that has them dreaming of better things.

Rebecca Higgins, Reporter

Hamline women’s softball team demands attention. On Mar. 9, the Pipers began their season with a doubleheader against Northland College.

“Before the games, we looked at Northland. They have not won but they have faced more teams. So we need to be prepared,” senior pitcher and infielder Sarah DeMars said.

Hamline’s preparation lead to a win for their first game against the Lumberjacks. The Pipers finished the game with a score of 5-3.

“Our coach stressed for us to be aggressive on the plate,” senior first baseman Chelsea Koehn said. “We didn’t let pitches go by, especially strikes.”

Senior designated hitter Casey Anderson hit a home run in the second inning, scoring the first point for the Pipers after Northland had taken an early 0-1 lead on the strength of two walks, a single and an error.

After seeing Northland retake the lead on a second unearned run in the top of the third, Hamline struck quickly on a single by Koehn, a single by senior shortstop Mary-Clare Couillard, an error and a two-run double by sophomore catcher Aubree Douglas. The Pipers found themselves in the lead 3-2, and would not trail again in either game.

Koehn hit a double in the bottom of the fourth inning, sending sophomore left fielder Sabrina Warden and first-year second baseman Caitlin Jones home. The Pipers finished out the fourth inning with a score of 5-2. The Lumberjacks responded with an RBI in the fifth inning by first-year catcher Emily Mader, but that’s all the closer they would get.

Senior pitcher Sarah DeMars went the distance in the first game, allowing seven hits, three runs (one earned) while walking four and striking out nine.

“Our hitting is really strong this season and is by far our biggest strength,” DeMars said. “We do need to work on our throwing. It is not very precise right now.”

While Hamline’s fielding may not have been precise as Northland’s, Anderson’s pitching was on point in the second game. She refused to let any Lumberjack see third base, struck out eight players and pitched a complete game shutout. The Pipers finished the second game against Northland with a win of 5-0.

“We went into both games playing our best,” DeMars said. “We didn’t go into them thinking we were going to win. We just expected the unexpected.”

In the bottom of the first inning, the Lumberjacks lost control of the ball after a wild pitch from first-year pitcher Celeste Amescua. While Northland chased after the ball, Koehn raced for home and scored the first run of the game.

The second inning saw the Pipers continue to increase their lead. After being hit by a pitch, junior right fielder Sydney Fransiscus took second on a groundout to the pitcher by sophomore center fielder Delaney Kohler and scored on a single by Couillard.

First-year catcher Ramsey Hare and Kohler added to the lead with an RBI single apiece. Hare’s single scored Anderson, and after advancing to second on the throw, scored on Kohler’s single. Douglas earned the last RBI for the night with a groundout to first base, which brought in Couillard after she had tripled to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. The Pipers played shutdown defense the rest of the way and earned a 5-0 win, sweeping the double-header.

“I have a good feeling about this team,” Koehn said. “We are fit to play in the playoffs but we want to do better. We have the opportunity to finish first [in the MIAC].”

Picked to be fourth place in the MIAC, the Pipers now stand at 2-0 for their non-conference games. After their winning streak against Northland, the Pipers are aiming higher than fourth place.

“We are all just happy to be here. The first-years are excited to start their career. The seniors are excited for their last first games,” Koehn said. “We have all been gifted with a talent to play the game we love.”

Hamline’s women’s softball team heads off to Tucson Arizona on Mar. 16 for 10 non-conference games. The Pipers’ conference games begin Apr. 4 on Meredith Field for a doubleheader against Carleton. First pitch is expected at 12:00 p.m., followed by the second game at 2:00 p.m.