by Greg MacDonald
The skies were clear for the right amount of time. The grass was freshly cut, and the baselines were perfectly drawn with chalk.
For the University of La Verne softball team, the conditions for its season-opener last Saturday could not have been any better.
The Leopards capitalized on the dream-like afternoon with a split in a double-header against Cal Lutheran, losing 7-2, winning 2-1.
In the night cap, junior designated hitter Lindsey Weber hammered a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving ULV the victory and the split. La Verne dropped all four meetings with Cal Lu a year ago, so the win is even sweeter for the Leopards.
“Cal Lutheran has always been one of the top teams in our conference,” said head coach Julie Kline. “Anytime you can come out with a win against a top team, it’s exciting, and it says we have unlimited potential.”
Senior Amber Hall earned the win, pitching all seven innings. Hall gave up six hits and did not surrender a walk. The lone run scored when Cal Lu’s Wendy Jackson, senior second baseman, led off the top of the sixth inning with a solo home run.
“Amber pitched a fantastic game and we supported her both defensively and offensively,” said Kline.
The first game of the season saw the Leopards open a little rusty, committing three errors, which led to two unearned runs.
Freshman pitcher Robin Haaker also had a complete game on the mound, going seven innings with seven strike outs. Haaker allowed seven runs, including those two unearned runs, and walked four.
Freshman shortstop Stephanie Cain delivered the biggest blow with a three-run home run in the third inning off of Haaker.
ULV had a chance for a big inning in the fifth when sophomore catcher Kadie Tillema began the inning with a single. After a fielder’s choice, Haaker, Hall and Weber each reached base safely, leading to a run. But, junior shortstop Kari Abbott popped out to end the inning.
“We do not need to make excuses. We just did not get the job done in the first game,” Kline said. “We played well enough to get by, but we will improve.”
Hall and Weber, who finished 4-for-6 in the two-game series, each had an RBI for La Verne in the first game.
ULV hosts Augustana on Thursday at 2 p.m.
The Leopards continue SCIAC play next Saturday at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at noon.