Hillsdale softball falls to Hudson in Autism Awareness doubleheader; baseball swept
The Hillsdale Daily News - 4/17/2019
April 17-- Apr. 17--HILLSDALE -- Neither Hillsdale's varsity baseball or softball teams came away with a win against visiting Hudson on Tuesday, but there was still reason for Hornet fans to be proud.
That's because Hillsdale's softball team played its first-ever "Autism Awareness Game," and despite falling to the Tigers 15-3 in the first game and 8-1 in the nightcap, raised a total of $1,300 for St. Paul's Ability Resource Center (SPARC), a ministry center in Hillsdale that seeks to embrace and support individuals with developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, cognitive impairments, and Down syndrome.
Hornets' coach Lauren Whedon, who along with her players, presented a check to SPARC during a break after the first game, said she's proud of her girls and the community for rallying to the cause.
"This is the first time we've ever done something like this with the program here," Whedon said. "But this is also the first time we've had such a special group of girls -- they're so selfless. When I brought it to their attention they jumped right it, it's such a special opportunity."
Tuesday's special charity doubleheader provided some extra motivation for the Hornets, who otherwise struggled to constrain Hudson in both games.
But despite the special occasion, the Tigers proved too much for Hillsdale to handle, batting in seven runs during the top of the first inning alone.
The Hornets tried to rally in the second inning off singles from a single from Hunter Sharp and a double from Kierstyn Francis, but managed just two runs in their single highest scoring inning of the game.
They'd trail Hudson until the game was called in the sixth inning with the Tigers up by 12.
Both Francis and Sharp tallied an RBI single, while Jaidyn Bigelow struck out one and walked five during the Hornets' first loss.
Speaking in between games, Whedon said her young team has to learn how to move on from its mistakes and not let early errors cloud their playing.
"We can't wait until towards the end of the game to try to come back and fight," Whedon said. "We have to come out ready and hungry the first inning."
But despite a quick home run to start off the nightcap game, things didn't pan out much better as Hudson downed them 8-1 after the Hornets gave up eight unanswered runs.
Bigelow put her team on the scoreboard with the early solo home run, and Abby Gilbert, Vivian Pickard, Rainee Vanheerde and Kierstyn Francis each singled, as the Hornets struggled to get their offense going.
Meanwhile, Hillsdale's varsity baseball team had a real chance to win their first of two games against Hudson, with the boys trailing their visitors just 5-3 at the end of six innings. But they'd give up two more runs in the seventh inning to put the game just out of reach.
Aidan Petersen went 3-for-3 at bat, providing the Hornets with their lone offensive spark in their first loss, tallying three singles and two RBIs, while Ryan Price picked up an RBI single.
"Defensively is where we're struggling right now," Hillsdale varsity baseball coach Gabriel Mitchell said after his team collapsed at the very end. "We got out early with a 1-0 lead but I felt like we got a little bit too satisfied with that, and we have to hold that lead all seven innings."
"There were a couple pitches that really spread out the game, but that's baseball and that's how it works sometimes."
Hillsdale, which hit fine during the first game, made things a lot closer in the nightcap match, but came just short of avenging their earlier loss as Hudson eked out a 10-9 win with the game called due to darkness after five innings.
Brock Woodard scored three of the Hornets nine runs, while six other players split a single run apiece in a more balanced offensive showing.
Mitchell said that although his team has dropped their last five games, he remains optimistic about their season.
"Making defensive plays at key moments has been our Achilles' heel but we will get back to work and fix what needs to be fixed," Gabriele said. "I told our guys we will bounce back from this and overcome our struggle, but only if they are willing to make it happen."
Hillsdale's varsity baseball team (2-7) will travel to Columbia Central next Tuesday, while the Hornets varsity softball squad will travel to Sturgis Thursday.
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