Softball travels to Manchester, Buffton this weekend

Team celebrating at home plate

HANOVER, Ind. - With Mother Nature continuing to affect many spring sports teams this year, the Hanover softball team will make trips to play at Manchester Saturday, April 21 and to Bluffton Sunday, April 22. Both Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) doubleheaders are set to begin at 1 p.m.

SCHEDULE CHANGES: Hanover was originally scheduled to host Anderson Saturday, April 14, but the games were moved to Sunday due to inclement weather. Rain forced a postponement that day as well and the two teams are now scheduled to meet Sunday, April 29 at 1 p.m. at Kops-Bedel Stadium.

The Panthers were only scheduled to play Manchester this weekend, but because games scheduled at Bluffton back on April 7 were postponed, they will now be made up this Sunday.

LAST WEEK: Although Hanover didn't play Anderson last week, the Panthers were able to travel to Terre Haute, Ind. to play Rose-Hulman last Wednesday. That twin bill turned into a pair of wins, the first two HCAC victories of the season, as Hanover won the opener 9-3 and the night cap 3-1. 

Hanover tallied 23 total hits in the two games and has now posted eight games with 10 hits or more. The nine runs in game one also mark the 11th time this season the Panthers have scored six or more runs. In those 11 games, Hanover is a perfect 11-0. 

Ahead 2-1 in game one against the Fightin' Engineers, the Panthers exploded for seven runs in the top of the sixth to break the game open. The seven-run inning is the largest of this season, and the biggest inning by Hanover since an eight-run third inning in a 9-0 win over Manchester last year. 

Senior Dabney Skutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) recorded a hit in her first at-bat of each game to extend her hitting streak to 17 games and finished the evening 5 for 9 with a pair or runs scored and three RBI. 

THE COMPETITION: Manchester currently owns a 12-16 overall record and 4-4 mark in the HCAC. The Spartans dropped both ends of a non-conference doubleheader earlier this week to Calvin (9-0, 5-1), and are scheduled to play at Rose-Hulman Wednesday, April 18 prior to hosting the Panthers Saturday.

Manchester ranks sixth in the league in team batting average (.304), seventh in earned run average (5.09) and third in fielding percentage (.956), and now sits in fifth place in the HCAC standings.

Bluffton enters the week with a 7-18 overall record and is 2-6 in the HCAC, which is good for eighth place. The Beavers have lost four of their last five, including a doubleheader sweep by Franklin (5-1, 9-0) last Friday.

In 25 games, Bluffton is fourth in the HCAC with a .314 batting average, eighth in ERA at 6.26 and ninth with a .925 fielding percentage. Before hosting Hanover Saturday, the Beavers are scheduled to play a pair of games against Mount St. Joseph this week.

SKUTT STILL STREAKING: With two more multi-hit games against Rose-Hulman, Dabney Skutt has now hit safely in 17 straight games and 22 of the 23 games she has played this spring. She now has 12 multi-hit efforts, including four three-hit games, and also had a streak of seven straight games earlier this year with two or more hits. 

In HCAC games, the senior is hitting .500 (11-22) with four runs scored, three RBI and a pair of doubles, and is now batting .475 overall in 80 at-bats. She leads the team in hits (38), doubles (10), RBI (19), on-base percentage (.494) and slugging (.662). She is second in the conference in average, tied for second in hits and tied for third in doubles.

WORKHORSE IN THE CIRCLE: Similar to the past two seasons, junior pitcher Sydney Griffin (Cambridge City, Ind.) has proven to be a workhorse for the Panthers once again. Griffin entered the year having thrown 255.1 innings over her first two seasons and is on her way to topping 100 innings pitched for a third time. In 18 appearances, she has tossed 88.0 innings and has completed 11 of the 12 games she has started.

Among HCAC pitchers, Griffin is tied for third in games started, tied for fourth in wins, second in complete games and innings pitched, tied for second in appearances and first in strikeouts with 104. Her ERA of 2.70 is also good for eighth overall.

UP NEXT: Following this weekend's games, Hanover will have a busy week next week as the Panthers are scheduled to play eight games in six days. The week will begin with a non-conference doubleheader at Wilmington Tuesday, April 24, and then home games Wednesday, April 25 against Franklin, Saturday, April 28 against Defiance and Sunday, April 29 against Anderson to close out the regular season. 

Contact: Mike Pritchard