by Christie Reed
ULV’s Leopard softball team successfully hid its first game jitters by coming home with two wins, 2-0 and 8-6, in the season’s opening doubleheader against Whittier College last Saturday.
The team of young sluggers faced Whittier unsure what to expect from their own teammates, much less their opponents.
“Being a young team composed of mainly freshman and sophomores, this would be most of the players first time taking the field together,” said Head Coach Julie Kline.
If this is any indication of the rest of the season, the women’s performance in these games will lead to a prosperous season.
The first inning set the pace for the rest of the noon game. With Liz Lomeli up to bat for the Leopards, her base hit turned into the only run of the inning. Lomeli had an impressive day going 4 for 8 and scoring five runs.
“We had a great start. We kept our heads up and our thinking optimistic throughout both of the games,”she said.
A strong defense and a fine pitching performance by Sharnae Lancaster were keys to the Leopards success.
Whittier finished the first game scoreless, but not discouraged. ULV’s Melissa Trejo scored on a base hit in the seventh inning giving La Verne a 2-0 victory.
The sun beating down with summer-like intensity did not manage to drain either team. ULV was ready to take a second win and Whittier was ready to make a comeback. The first play was a replica from the first game. Lomeli and La Verne took control of the game early on by getting a base hit that turned into the first run of the game. A series of singles, doubles and triples followed. Offense had come alive as needed.
“Timing was the key. We had the hits when the runners were on base,” said Kline.
Whittier also started off the game on the right foot, but as Whittier Coach Ramon Juarez put it, “It was not consistent throughout the games.” Triples by both Lorraine Davidson and Deana Schneider gave two runs in the first inning, making an early score of 2-1 in favor of Whittier. The Leopards quickly took action. Another run by Lomeli and two RBIs by Jamie Hesler gave way to the lead 3-2 at the end two innings.
The third and fourth innings introduced great batting and field action, but defense on both sides stopped many players from reaching home plate. Lomeli scored once again on a fielders choice and an error by Whittier’s second baseman. The run was not an easy one. Lomeli dove toward home plate, the catcher appeared to have the ball and Lomeli was called out. But a dropped ball and an appeal to the base umpire showed her to be safe.
The action-packed inning continued as Laurie Grey smashed a hit along the chalk line and under the outfield fence for a ground-ruled double. Lancaster, who waited patiently at first after a single, found the opportunity to score, making the lead 5-3. La Verne’s defense and offense took control during the remaining innings. The Leopards took three more runs in the fifth. Whittier managed to threaten the Leopards in the bottom of the seventh inning by scoring three runs, bringing them within two runs. La Verne held on for an 8-6 victory, pleasing Kline and winning pitcher Lancaster.
“I was really nervous at first since I had never played for ULV and I started out pitching two games in a row,” said Lancaster.