Return of Ace Michelle Hollebeke ’08 to Pitching Staff Sparks Softball to 2-1 Week

Ace Michelle Hollebeke ’08, in her first game since April 9 because of a sore knee, pitched four shutout innings in her return to the circle last Friday. Hollebeke struck out nine in Andover’s dominating 9-0 win over North Hampton. On Saturday, Andover hosted Cushing, Tabor, and Exeter at Isham Field, beating Cushing, 8-2, in the opener but dropping the second game, 14-6, to a strong Tabor team. On Wednesday, Andover finished off its busy week with a 12-1 romp of arch- rival Exeter, the first game away from Isham Field for the team this season. The three wins and one loss this week brought Andover’s record to an impressive 7-3 on the season. Friday’s victory over North Hampton was scoreless for three and a half innings until the bottom of the fourth, when three straight Andover singles by the heart of the lineup brought home the game’s first runs to bring some life to the Andover bats. The true success came on the defensive side of the game, however. Andover played errorless defense for the first time this season, and Hollebeke showed great poise in her pitching return. Veda Eswarappa ’08 relieved Hollebeke for the final three innings, striking out two in preserving the shutout. “I thought our defense was really strong all game,” said starting second baseman Alayna Garbarino ’10. “The pitchers took care of most of the work, but whenever a ball was put into play, we had the fielding to usually get the out.” The very next day, Andover was back on the field in the opening game of a double- header against Cushing. Hollebeke once again started, and went five innings, striking out six and walking just three. She held the Cushing lineup to just three hits and one earned run in the outing. Boylan, the usual shortstop, came in to pitch for the second time this season for the final two innings, allowing nothing more than a leadoff single in the 6th. Offensively, Sarah Onorato ’11 starred, ripping four hits and knocking in two of Andover’s eight runs in the win. Captain Stephanie Clegg ’08 also knocked in a run for Andover, along with Boylan and Hollebeke. In the second game of the double header, Andover squared off with a Tabor team that possessed a 6-1 record coming into the contest. Andover, already short onpitching due to Hollebeke’s injury, seemed to run out of gas in its third game in just two days. Eswarappa got the start for Andover, but the team fell behind, 11-1, after three innings of play. Hollebeke provided much of the offense for Andover, rocketing two home runs for three RBIs. The effort wasn’t enough, unfortunately, as Andover couldn’t overcome the early deficit and fell, 14-6. Wednesday’s away game was Andover’s fourth of the week, but the team showed no signs of slowing down. Hollebeke got the start, easily shutting down the overmatched Exeter squad, 12-1. “It felt good to go out there and pick up the win against Exeter,” said Riley Gardner ’10. “We played a great game all around, in basically every aspect, and every player contributed for the win, added Gardner”. Andover looks to build its momentum regained, since Hollebeke’s return, when it hosts Worcester Saturday.