by Lori Cruz
Starting off the season with a double-header, the University of La Verne softball team went head-to-head with the Whittier Poets last Friday.
The Leopards won both games, 1-0 and 7-5, despite their struggle throughout the first game which went into extra innings after a scoreless game in regulation.
“We just could not hit,” said sophomore Sharnae Lancaster, who pitched both games of the first series. “But in the second game, a lot was working for us.”
In the middle of the tenth inning of game one, with the Leos at bat, freshman Jennifer Caforio started off at second (the International Tie Breaker Rule allows the last batter from the previous inning to start at second base so the game does not last too long), and junior Loree Grey hit a triple to center that allowed Caforio to score the only run of the game.
The game ended over two hours later, with a 1-0 score, after nine and a half innings.
“We really didn’t get the job done,” Head Coach Julie Kline said of her team’s performance.
Game two started minutes after the first ended and was scoreless for the first two innings until the Poets’ Callie Batts scored following a series of base hits.
With the Leos at bat, Caforio had a stand-up double that allowed sophomore Teresa Garcia to come home tying the score, 1-1.
The Poets scored again in the top of the fifth but the Leos rallied and kept control of the game.
Junior Carmen Diaz started the bottom of the fifth with a base hit to center. Sophomore Amber Hall advanced junior Kelly Perkins, who ran for Diaz, to third and Garcia, who walked, to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Caforio also bunted, this time to the Poets third baseman, Yvonne Juarez, who fumbled the throw to first, which allowed both Perkins and Garcia to score.
Grey came up and doubled to center which allowed Caforio to score making it 4-2 after five innings.
The Poets rallied in the sixth and scored three runs as a result of consistent batting and few errors by the Leos’ defense.
The coaches for both teams met with the umpires in the sixth, when the game was about to be called on account of darkness.
“They were about to call the game after six. We were fortunate they let us play seven,” said Kline.
Kline and her team urged each other to get the job done so they could have a last time at bat before the game would be called.
The Leopards defended themselves in the seventh and the Poets took the field after three consecutive outs.
With darkness falling fast and the Poets up by two, Leos pitcher Lancaster got the first base hit.
The Poets walked Grey and junior Jamey Hesler got to first base on an error by Juarez which caused Lancaster to even the score, 5-5.
The Poets intentionally walked sophomore Elizabeth Lomeli. With the bases loaded, junior Jenna Bowman hit a line drive up the middle, which allowed both Grey and Hesler to score.
“The team was really ready to play in the second game,” said Grey of their lackluster start. “We came out here and pulled together in the end. We always know we’ll come together.”
“They did a great job,” said Kline. “When the tough get going….”