Hanover softball drops HCAC-opening games to Mount St. Joseph

Ashley Swearingen

CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Hanover softball team opened its 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference season Thursday afternoon and fell in both ends of a doubleheader to Mount St. Joseph, dropping the first game 3-0 and the night cap 5-4.

The first game saw the two starting pitchers combine to allow only six hits. With two outs in the first inning, senior Dabney Skutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) singled up the middle. A line out one batter later would end the inning, but Skutt's single extended her hitting streak to 12 games.

The Lions (13-5 overall, 2-0 HCAC) broke through with the first run of the game in the third inning. Following a pair of walks and a sac bunt, a passed ball allowed a run to score and Mount St. Joseph led 1-0.

That lead grew to 3-0 in the next inning. With one runner on and one out, the Lions got a two-run home run to push the lead to what would turn out to be the final 3-0 tally. 

Skutt and fellow senior McKenzie Writt (Franklin, Ind.) had a hit each, while junior Sydney Griffin (Cambridge City, Ind.) took the loss. Griffin allowed three runs on four hits over six innings with six walks and six strikeouts. 

The Panthers got off to a quick start in game two. Skutt made it a 13-game hitting streak with a lead-off double to center field and then advanced to third on a ground out. Senior Sidney Powers (Indianapolis, Ind.) followed with what looked to be an RBI ground out, but reached base on a Mount St. Joseph error for an early 1-0 advantage. Hanover looked to make it a two-run inning when sophomore Shelby Edington (New Goshen, Ind.) singled with two outs, but Powers was cut down at the plate for the final out. 

The Lions answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the first to go in front 2-1, but after a scoreless second, Writt drove in freshman Mackenzie Smith (Jeffersonville, Ind.) with a two-out RBI single in the third to tie the game at two apiece.

Neither team was able to get anything going offensively in the fourth or fifth innings as only two of the combined 14 hitters reached base.

Mount St. Joseph took the lead in the bottom of the sixth with two runs and looked to finish the game in the top of the seventh, but after sophomore Taylor Merrill (Brownsburg, Ind.) led off with a single, freshman Ashley Swearingen (Clarksville, Ind.) quickly tied the game at 4-4 when she connected for her first collegiate home run. 

Skutt reached second base later in the inning, but would be left stranded and the game continued to the bottom of the seventh. After the first three hitters for the Lions reached base, a bases-loaded single up the middle ended the game for a 5-4 Mount St. Joseph win. 

The Panthers finished with eight hits in the game. Skutt went 3-for-4 with a run scored and Merrill also had a multi-hit effort with two hits and a run scored in three at-bats.

Griffin was also tagged for the loss in game two. The third-year hurler entered in relief in the sixth and allowed one run on three hits to fall to 7-5 on the season. 

Hanover, now 10-10 overall and 0-2 in the HCAC, is back in action Friday, April 6. The Panthers will host Transylvania in an HCAC twin bill with first pitch of game one set for 3:30 p.m. at Kops-Bedel Stadium.

Contact: Mike Pritchard