Hitting for the stars…and the playoffs

The softball team attributes this year’s success to their hitting, and their current standing in the MIAC backs it up.

Junior catcher Abbie Annen watches a pitch come in against Concordia.

Rebecca Higgins, Reporter

Hamline women’s softball team’s aggression insists on winning. Each game the Pipers enter, they target the other team by utilizing their own hitting.

“Right now, our hitting is taking over,” senior infielder and outfielder Chelsea Koehn said. “When our hitting is taking over, the rest will do itself.”

By utilizing their hitting, this Piper team has done what most Piper teams dream of doing: earning a top three spot in the MIAC.

“We have the chance to make history,” Koehn said.

The Pipers have bolstered their resume and playoff chances during a brilliant April. With four conference games remaining, Hamline has gone 14-4 and showcased their talent with five wins in six games this past weekend.

After rescheduling due to the rain, the Pipers entered a doubleheader against then-leader of the MIAC, St. Benedict’s, on Apr. 21 as the MIAC’s number two team.

The Pipers started hot in the bottom of the first and utilized a St. Ben’s error to take a quick 2-0 lead. St. Ben’s wouldn’t stay quiet forever, and had their own two-run inning in the top of the third. Hamline pushed right back in front in the bottom of the third and took a 3-2 lead.

In the top of the fifth, St. Ben’s made several more attempts to get the advantage, but were only able to tie the Pipers. Utilizing the clutch hitting that has benefitted the team in several previous games, the Pipers used three singles and a sacrifice bunt to put themselves in front for good. Hamline took the first game, 4-3.

“I think we all came together as a team,” Koehn said. “We had the momentum and the energy that we wanted.”

After the 4-3 win, the Pipers prepared for a second game against St. Ben’s. Hamline struck first again in the second game, tallying a run in the bottom of the third on a double and two sacrifice outs. The lead didn’t last long as St. Ben’s pushed across three runs of their own in the top of the fourth, and the score would stay that way until the sixth inning.

The sixth inning was the death knell for the Pipers in game two, as they allowed five runs on five hits and an error and saw the game get away from them. Though they responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, Hamline gave up two more runs in the top of the seventh and lost, 4-10.

The loss against St. Ben’s moved Hamline’s standing from second in the MIAC to third, with St. Thomas now holding the second place position.

“We can’t let a loss hinder us,” Koehn said. “The MIAC is a really tough competition and everyone is close.”

The next day, the Pipers went out to Winona, Minnesota for a doubleheader against St. Mary’s. Quick offense was again the name of the game for the Pipers, who powered across four runs in the top of the first.

The game was fairly quiet the remainder of the way, with Hamline adding a solitary run in the top of the fifth. Senior pitcher Sarah DeMars lost her bid at a shutout in the bottom of the seventh, but she shut the door after that and claimed her eighth victory of the season in Hamline’s 5-1 win.

“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Koehn said. “I am excited to play.”

Hamline was the first up to bat against St. Mary’s. For the third time in four games, Hamline scored in their first at-bat, with sophomore designated hitter Aubree Douglas hitting an RBI double to left field to score Koehn for the first run of the game. St. Mary’s took advantage of some sloppy play by the Pipers in the bottom of the first to score five runs on five hits and three errors.

The Pipers responded in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly by Anderson and home runs by first-year pitcher Kira Krueger and first-year infielder Caitlyn Jones, tying the game at 5-5.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Pipers turned the tables on St. Mary’s and took advantage of their sloppy play, scoring two runs with the help of a Cardinals error and wild pitch.

Senior Casey Anderson was up to bat in the top of the sixth with the score at 7-5, when she hit a homerun to left center. Anderson pitched stellar in relief of starter DeMars, pitching 6 ⅔ innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and striking out two. The score stood at 8-5 and with St. Mary’s unable to live up to their success in the first inning, the Pipers left with another win against St. Mary’s and a conference record of 12-4.

“I don’t think a single team can beat us in the MIAC,” Koehn said. “When we are on our A-game, there is not a team in the MIAC that should be beating us.”

Hamline added two more wins to their record with 6-1 and 10-0 wins over Concordia, and are just one game behind St. Thomas for a share of the conference lead.

The Pipers return today in St. Paul, Minnesota with an away doubleheader against St. Kate’s. The first game starts at 3:30 p.m., followed by the second game at 5:30 p.m.