McDaniel sophomore Tayler Hishon went 6-for-7 with five doubles and eight RBIs in the Green Terror's doubleheder sweep over Swarthmore on Tuesday.
McDaniel sophomore Tayler Hishon went 6-for-7 with five doubles and eight RBIs in the Green Terror's doubleheder sweep over Swarthmore on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of David)

McDaniel College won a Centennial Conference softball championship last season, led by the best pitcher in program history.

That pitcher, Caroline Brehm, graduated in the spring after smashing Green Terror records during her four years on the Hill. Brehm's departure meant the Terror were on the verge of forging a new identity while trying to defend a Centennial crown.

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McDaniel is off to a solid start in doing so.

The Green Terror are 12-10, 4-2 in the conference, seeing success after an 0-5 start. And with a rotation of new pitchers, McDaniel is getting results.

But offense has carried the team so far this season.

"I think everyone was a little nervous," said Tayler Hishon, a sophomore infielder. "After you win conferences, the hardest thing to do is come back and win the next year. Everyone's coming out playing their 'A' game against us, especially wanting to get revenge from last year because we played so well. Even without the Caroline aspect, we were all pretty nervous to come back and play this season.

"Losing Caroline was a big deal, but we still have a lot of returners. And a lot of our offense is still here. We're still hitting the ball."

Hishon is one of McDaniel's top offensive players. She's batting .349 with nine doubles and 13 RBIs and had a huge Tuesday when the Terror swept Swarthmore in a doubleheader.

Hishon went 6-for-7 with eight RBIs, and five of her hits were doubles.

She's backed by junior outfielder Lindsey Miller, who leads the club with a .375 average and has two home runs and a team-best 14 RBIs to go with nine stolen bases. Sophomore infielder Payton Lewis has a .362 average with four doubles, nine RBIs and 16 walks.

Junior infielder Olivia Kipe, a Manchester Valley graduate, is hitting .343 with seven doubles and 13 RBIs.

Fielding 10 underclassmen could be seen as a deterrent for a reigning conference championship team, but Kipe said that's not the case with McDaniel.

Freshman Fiona Johnson and sophomore Valerie Lamb have 18 combined starts as Terror pitchers, with a 10-7 record and a 3.67 ERA between them.

It's not comparable to Brehm's numbers, but few can match her. She compiled 93 wins, 126 complete games, 40 shutouts, 1,356 strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA.

Johnson and Lamb have 71 combined strikeouts this year, and Kipe said the focus shifts to defense and a strong offense.

"We have a solid order from top to bottom, which is huge," Kipe said. "We had strong hitting last year, but this year our hitting is just remarkable. I know we lost a pitcher, but we really have a pitching staff now."

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McDaniel visits Franklin & Marshall on Sunday for a doubleheader and returns home next Tuesday for two against Shenandoah.

Kipe said she thinks the Centennial is more up for grabs this spring, with some of the bottom-tier teams from 2015 enjoying some improvement. If McDaniel wants to repeat, it's likely going to take a balanced effort.

"It has been really fun to be everyone's Saturday night game, everyone's game that they want to win so bad," Hishon said. "The pressure's good. It keeps us really focused and determined to play and practice really hard so we can bring our 'A-plus-plus' game every single day. We can't really take a day off because everyone's bringing their best game."

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