Spartans take four-game win streak on road

A Sunday, April 23, trip to Hanover College has Manchester University looking to keep itself among the 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament landscape.

Game details: First pitch at Kops-Bedel Stadium, on HC's campus, is 1 p.m. … Live statistics are viewable for the doubleheader at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics … The Spartans (11-17-1 overall, 2-6 HCAC) have won four in a row and are eighth on the loop standings chart, trailing a three-way tie for third by just three games. Hanover, winners of five of their last eight, enter at 15-9 overall and 5-3 in the conference … Three of the last four seasons have seen the two sides split results including 2016 at Spartan Field in North Manchester, as the Panthers took a 9-0 win in the opener and the Black and Gold rallied for a 9-7 nightcap decision.

Spartan Shorts: Senior second baseman Laurren Ladwig (Crown Point, Ind.), who helped highlight a sweep of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association leading Hope College April 18 with a lead-off home run in game two, remains among the loop's top five in round trippers. Her total of five are among a tie for fourth. Other top listings for Coach Josh Dzurick's crew belong to Ladwig (.376 batting average – No. 8/triples – one – tied for ninth with freshman first baseman Shakira Perez, Elkhart, Ind., and junior outfielder Mallorie Jennings, Bourbon, Ind./25 runs – No. 4/35 hits – No. 5/62 total bases – No. 4/.667 slugging percentage – No. 2); junior pitcher Madisyn Walter (Hanna, Ind.) (seven wins – No. 8/two shutouts – No. 3/16 starts – No. 1/95 innings pitched – No. 3); sophomore third baseman Kate Skeens (Gas City, Ind.) (22 RBI – No. 9); and Perez (.375 batting average – No. 9/triples – one – tied with Jennings and Ladwig) … The Spartans pushed their win total in double digits with an eye-opening sweep of Hope Tuesday. Freshman Tristyn Koon (Kokomo, Ind.) and Walter proved an effective one-two punch in the circle, while Manchester University's offense produced timely hitting. Koon, battling Sydney Jones who came in with a sparkling 10-2 record and 0.84 earned run average, managed to match one of the MIAA and NCAA Division III Great Lakes region's top young hurlers pitch-for-pitch in game one. Despite trailing 1-0 and having been K'ed seven times over the first three innings, the Spartans battled through it and broke into the score column twice in the fourth, behind a long home run to dead center field off the bat of Skeens and two more times in the sixth as the sophomore third baseman added a third run-batted-in and sophomore shortstop Mandi Boggs (Frankfort, Ind.) got a liner up the middle just past the out-stretched glove of Jones to score freshman pinch runner Makenzzie Kazmierczak (South Bend, Ind.) with the eventual winning tally as part of a 4-3 thriller. Koon, earning her third win of the year, allowed just eight hits, didn't issue a free pass and struck out one. Game two saw the home bats, much to the delight of the crowd at Spartan Field, continue their recent liveliness. Ladwig belted her lead-off bomb to wipe away a 1-0 deficit, and the Black and Gold stretched a current win streak to four with a 9-1, five-inning victory by plating single runs in the second, third and fifth and five in the fourth. Ladwig finished with three hits, three runs scored, and two RBI; senior left fielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) compiled four hits; Skeens picked up where she left off in the opener with three more safeties; and sophomore designated player/outfielder Krystal Sellers (Bourbon, Ind.) ended with two hits. All of that firepower was more than enough to allow Walter to even her season record at 7-7. Adding a fourth complete game to her season resume, she struck out three, wasn't touched for an earned run and was nicked for just five hits.

Busy Stretch Continues: Following the double-dip at Hanover, the Spartans are scheduled to be back home Monday, April 24, against MIAA power Alma College and then travel to Bluffton University for conference action Wednesday, April 25. The doubleheader versus the Scots resumes a stretch of 10 contests in eight days that wraps up the 2017 regular season.