Freshmen shine as softball takes two from Capital

Rachel Cox

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover softball team got off to a fast start in both sets of a home doubleheader with Capital Saturday, cruising to 13-7 and 9-2 wins.

A pair of freshmen in Rachel Cox (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Mackenzie Smith (Jeffersonville, Ind.) shined for the Panthers (10-4), combining to go 11-for-14 at the plate. Cox, who entered the opener as a pinch hitter, finished 1-for-2 in the six-run victory before adding a 4-for-4 performance in the night cap. Smith went 3-for-3 in the opener and accumulated five RBI and four runs over the two-game stretch.

Smith was also a part of the top-third of the lineup that feasted on Capital (2-10) pitching all day. Senior Dabney Skutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) hit in the two-hole, going 5-for-8 with four runs scored and three RBI, while also being the only Panther with an extra-base hit in both games. Skutt's performance Saturday gives her six straight games with multiple hits as well. Classmate McKenzie Writt (Franklin, Ind.) also added five hits during the twin bill, pitching in with one run scored in each game and two of her three RBI in the second half of the doubleheader.

The fifth Blue and Red player to record five hits on the day was sophomore Taylor Merrill (Brownsburg, Ind.). Merrill went 5-for-7 at the plate with three runs scored.

Junior Sydney Griffin (Cambridge City, Ind.) picked up her seventh win and first save of the season Saturday, totaling 9.2 innings pitched, three earned runs and 10 strikeouts. Griffin went the distance in the opener, allowing three earned runs, while striking out six.

Earning her third win of the season in the night cap was freshman Lily Beurman (Evansville, Ind.). Beurman started in the circle, going 4.1 innings, allowing two runs -- one earned – on four hits.

Five first inning hits led to five runs for the Panthers in the opener. Skutt tripled to right center for the game's first run and sophomore Jennah Ruddick (McCordsville, Ind.) capped the explosive frame with a two-RBI double to left center.

Griffin worked her way out of jams in each of the first three innings, stranding six Crusader runners, while allowing just one run. Hanover added four more in the third, with three runners crossing home plate on a single from Smith. The Blue and Red led 9-1 after three complete.

Five unanswered from Capital saw the HC lead shrink to three, 9-6, heading into the bottom of the sixth. Hanover responded with four more runs in the frame though, highlighted by singles from sophomore Bailey Miller (Charlestown, Ind.) and freshman Ashley Swearingen (Clarksville, Ind.) that scored a total of three.

After a scoreless first inning in the second half of the doubleheader, Hanover tallied three runs in the second to take an early advantage. In the twin bill, HC outscored Capital 12-1 through the opening three frames.

The Panthers added three more in the fourth to lead 6-2. Singles to the right side of the field from Writt and Swearingen drove in a pair of runs, and Skutt would steal home after the Crusaders would attempt to throw out a stealing Writt at second base.

Writt drove in another run in the fifth and RBI singles from Cox and Smith in the sixth extended HC's lead to seven, 9-2, a score they would ultimately win by. Griffin worked out of two-bases loaded jams late to help secure the Panthers' seventh win in their last eight games.

Hanover will look to add two more to the win column Sunday, March 18, as they travel to Centre (Ky.) for games against the Colonels and the Denison Big Red.

Contact: Tyler Jester