Hamilton College opened the 2018 campaign in Minneola, Fla., on Tuesday morning with two non-conference games. The Continentals took down Franklin & Marshall College 6-5 in game one before falling 8-2 to Stevenson University in game two.
Hamilton (1-1 overall) faces Bethel University (Minn.) at 9 a.m. and SUNY Geneseo at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 at Hancock Park in Clermont, Fla.
Game One: Hamilton 6, Franklin & Marshall 5
Claire O'Brien '21 picked up her first collegiate victory in the first game of her young Hamilton career. The first-year pitcher had five strikeouts and three walks through seven innings. Caitlin Berreitter '20 and Kendall Searcy '20 both went 2-for-4 with one run batted in, and Emily Fraser '20 hit a two-run homer.
The Continentals grabbed an early one-run lead in the top of the first inning. Caroline Chivily '19 hit a one-out single to the left side of the infield and stole second base. Searcy then ripped a line drive to center field to score Chivily.
The Diplomats took a 3-1 lead with a three-run third inning. Sam Clemens (2-for-4) started it with a leadoff single and advanced to second on a throwing error to first base. Erin Russell dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Clemens into scoring position, Lexi Piccinich drove in Clemens with a single to right field, and Katie Wenger cleared the bases with a homer over the right field fence.
Hamilton's defense held strong during the bottom of the fifth inning, holding its deficit to two runs. Searcy charged a trickling ground ball and just beat the runner with an off-balance throw for the first out of the inning. Fraser outran a fly ball in center field for out number two and Berreitter knocked down a line drive up the third-base line, grabbed the ball off the dirt and chucked it to an outstretched Helen Lin '19 at first base for the final out of the fifth.
Searcy and Fraser kept the momentum going at the plate. With two outs, Searcy hit her second line drive single of the game, and Fraser blasted a two-run homer to right center field to tie the score at 3-3 in the top of the sixth. O'Brien took care of the bottom half of the inning by forcing a fly out to left field, an infield popup and a strikeout.
The Continentals strung together three runs in the top half of the seventh. Ashleah Yzaguirre '19 earned a leadoff walk, Liz Brautigam '19 jumped on base after a fielding error, Lin put down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Yzaguirre scored on a passed ball that was ball four to pinch-hitter Sophia Cerreta '20. Berreitter followed with a double to left center to score Brautigam, and Chivily put the ball in play to score Cerreta with Hamilton's final run.
The Diplomats loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning and were able to push two runs across the plate, but the Continentals maintained their composure and finished the game with a double play. Searcy picked up the grounder, threw the ball to Brautigam at home plate for the second out and Brautigam tossed the ball to Lin at first to end the game.
Game Two: Stevenson 8, Hamilton 2
Berreitter continued her stellar play for Hamilton by going a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a double and two stolen bases. Fraser knocked in both Hamilton runs, Yzaguirre went 1-for-2 with a walk and Molly Leitner '19 had a pinch-hit single.
Again, Hamilton jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Berreitter got it all started with a single to left center and proceeded to steal second and third base. Fraser hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Berreitter.
Stevenson took the lead with three runs in the third inning and Tiffany McKee added a fourth run with a solo home run in the top of the fifth. Searcy got Hamilton within two runs at 4-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, but the Mustangs added three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Hamilton finished the game with eight hits compared to Stevenson's 10.