by Greg MacDonald
Staying focused is the name of the game. The University of La Verne softball team had that focus for 14 innings against the Occidental Tigers, as the Leopards swept their doubleheader last Saturday.
ULV won the first game 2-1 behind the great pitching of freshman Michelle Geiger. Freshman pitcher Teresa DaValle finished off the Tigers 9-7 to complete the two game sweep.
“Both pitchers did a great job of focusing,” said head coach Julie Kline, whose team improved to 7-5 on the year.
La Verne took the lead early in the first game by executing the fundamentals. After sophomore centerfielder Angel Mejico reached base on an error to start the second inning, junior designated hitter Jamie Anderson bunted Mejico to second base.
Then one out later, junior right fielder Teresa Garcia singled in Mejico to give the Leopards the lead.
ULV scored its second run in the third inning. Senior catcher Kelly Perkins singled, then sophomore first baseman Lindsey Weber doubled Perkins in. However, Weber was thrown out trying to stretch her double into a triple.
Those two runs were all the support Geiger needed. She only gave up five hits the entire game, and the only inning the Tigers had more than one hit in was the sole inning they scored.
The Tiger last minute rally fell short as Geiger set Occidental down in order to earn the game one victory.
Game two against the Tigers started off a little shaky as Occidental scored two first inning runs off of DaValle. But the Leopards came right back with two of their own runs in their half of the inning to tie the score. Junior second baseman Lateka Clayton began the first inning rally when she singled in left field and stole second base.
So after only scoring two runs the entire first game, the Leopards had already scored two runs in the first inning of the second game.
“I thought we needed to score more runs to help our pitchers,” said Kline.
That help for the pitchers came in the form of three more runs, one in the second and two more in the fourth, which built the ULV lead to 5-3 heading into the sixth inning.
The Leopards sent all nine batters to the plate in their half of the sixth inning as they scored four runs to take a 9-3 lead.
Senior shortstop Laurie Grey tripled in Weber for the first run. Mejico followed with a single to drive in another run. Anderson followed with a triple of her own off of the center field wall for the run batted in. Anderson scored when senior left fielder Jenna Bowman singled.
With a 9-3 lead and only one inning to play, La Verne needed only three more outs to seal the sweep. But the win did not come that easily.
“We lost a little focus at the end of the second game,” Kline said.
The Tigers loaded the bases using a single and two walks before an out was recorded. Then two more Tigers reached base and three runs came across before the second out was made. However, a small team meeting was called at the mound by Kline to re-focus the team.
DaValle got the final out with the bases loaded on a deep fly out to right field.
Those two wins came on the heels of two losses to the Cal Lutheran Regals last Friday.
La Verne was behind for the entire first game at Cal Lutheran and lost 9-2.
But in the second game, La Verne nearly won. After the Leopards had scored three runs in the third to lead 5-1, the Kingsmen scored eight runs in their half of the third inning.
ULV kept coming back and had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning with the score 10-9, favoring the Kingsmen.
However, with Perkins at the plate, having already hit a double in the game, and the bases loaded and no outs, the umpire called the game due to darkness. ULV lost the game 10-9.
“We played well [against Occidental] considering we came off of some tough losses yesterday [against Cal Lutheran]. It’s always hard to refocus,” said Kline.
La Verne, 5-5 in conference, are in third place, five games behind the Regals (11-1) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (9-1). The women will face CMS April 11.
The Leopards are batting .346 as a team, which is second in SCIAC. Weber leads the team, batting .462, and Anderson is second with .438.
Geiger leads ULV on the mound with a 5-2 overall record and a 2.64 earned run average. She is fifth in SCIAC with that ERA and places second in league in wins. DaValle is the 10th rated pitcher with her 5.56 ERA.
The pitching staff has an overall ERA of 3.90 through 12 games. The pitchers have combined for 10 complete games, six by Geiger and four by De Valle.
ULV plays today at 2 p.m. at home against Colorado College.