Softball to wrap up regular season with busy week

Team huddle on the field

HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover softball team will conclude its 2018 regular season this week, but it will be a busy one as the Panthers are scheduled to play eight games in five days, including six Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference games.

Hanover will first play a doubleheader at home against Franklin Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and then travel to Ohio Thursday for a couple of non-conference games against Wilmington. After a day off from games Friday, the Panthers will host Defiance (Ohio) Saturday and Anderson Sunday in pair of conference twin bills at Kops-Bedel Stadium. Game one against Defiance is set for a 2 p.m. start, while Sunday's first game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

LAST WEEK: Hanover played four league games on the road at Manchester Saturday and Bluffton Sunday and came away with a 2-2 record. Freshman pitcher Lily Beurman (Evansville, Ind.) hurled the first complete-game shutout of her young college career in a 9-0 win in game one against Manchester. Beurman scattered eight hits, did not walk anybody and struck out seven.

Sophomore Shelby Edington (New Goshen, Ind.) provided the offense in a big way. In four at-bats, she had four hits and five RBI, including a two-run home run and a three-run home run.

Beurman then allowed only one earned run in seven innings with two walks and seven strikeouts in a 6-2 win over Bluffton the next day, while five different Panther hitters recorded two hits apiece in the victory.

Senior Dabney Skutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) extended her hitting streak to 18 games in game one against Manchester, but had that streak come to an end in game two. She started a new streak the next day at Bluffton with at least one hit in each game, including three in the night cap.

THE COMPETITION: Franklin enters the week with a 23-7 overall record and a 10-4 mark in the HCAC, which is good for second. The Grizzlies have won seven of their last nine games, including sweeps of Bluffton and Mount St. Joseph, and are coming of a doubleheader split against Defiance.

Through 30 games, Franklin ranks second in the HCAC in team batting average (.357), second in team earned run average (1.85) and second in fielding percentage (.957).

Wilmington currently sports a 13-15 overall record and is 4-12 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Quakers have wrapped a pair of doubleheader sweeps of Capital and Ohio-Chillicothe around two losses to Mount Union.

Wilmington brings a .297 team average, 4.19 ERA and a .948 fielding percentage into Thursday's contests. 

Defiance is sitting in third place in the HCAC with a 19-9 overall record and 7-3 league mark. The Yellow Jackets have won six of their last seven games with sweeps of Manchester and Rose-Hulman. After dropping the first game 7-0 to Franklin, Defiance won 2-1 in eight innings of game two last Sunday.

The Yellow Jackets lead the conference in hitting (.361), are fourth in ERA (3.18) and third in fielding percentage (.956).

Anderson will cap the week with the final two regular season games Sunday. The Ravens are 9-19 overall and 2-6 in the HCAC and have lost nine of their last 10 games, including dropping both games at Thomas More (6-0, 13-3) over the weekend.

Anderson ranks third in the conference with a .328 average, eighth in ERA at 6.07, and ninth in fielding percentage at .927. 

SENIOR DAY: Saturday's doubleheader at home against Defiance will also serve as Senior Day for the Hanover softball program. The Panthers will honor their three seniors that day for their efforts during their time at Hanover. The trio of Dabney Skutt, McKenzie Writt (Franklin, Ind.) and Sidney Powers (Indianapolis, Ind.) will be playing in their final regular season home games this week. 

With one week to play these three have helped Hanover to 71 wins with a .530 winning percentage. They have posted two winning seasons and finished .500 in the third year and have also tallied a winning record in HCAC play with 29 victories. 

STRONG WEEK FROM BEURMAN: Lily Beurman appeared in three of the team's four games last week and did a great job in the circle. After tossing her first collegiate complete-game shutout against Bluffton, she returned one day later with another complete-game effort where she allowed two runs - only one earned - in the first game. Beurman also tossed two innings of scoreless and hitless, softball in game two. 

For the week, she finished with a 2-0 record in 16.0 innings of work. She allowed 15 hits, two runs - one earned - with two walks and 17 strikeouts. Entering the final week of regular season play, she is 6-6 in 86.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and a 3.31 earned run average.

HCAC TOURNAMENT: With one week to play, there is still room for teams to move up and down in the conference standings. With the top five teams qualifying for the HCAC Tournament, things could quickly change by the end of the week.

Hanover currently sits in sixth place with a .400 winning percentage, but has six conference games to play, including four against teams that are in front of the Panthers at this time (Franklin - 2nd, Defiance - 3rd). 

Of the nine league schools, four have six games to play this week including Anderson (7th), Defiance (3rd), Hanover (6th) and Transylvania (1st). Bluffton (8th), Manchester (5th), Mount St. Joseph (4th) and Rose-Hulman (9th) have four games, while Franklin (2nd) only has two remaining HCAC games on the schedule.

The HCAC Tournament is scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday, May 4-5 with the winning team receiving an automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament. 

CONTACT: Mike Pritchard