by Scott Harvey
Following a strong two week stand which featured a 5-1 win over the UC San Diego Tritons on April 3, and two big wins against Occidental College (12-1, 4-1) last week, La Verne’s softball team finished the season strong this past weekend, winning three out of four games at home.
The first series featured the Leopards against the University of San Diego and although La Verne fought hard in game one of the doubleheader, it fell short 5-8 to the Toreros. La Verne struck back in the second game, winning 5-3 to split the series.
In the first game loss, La Verne was forced to play catch up most of the game due to strong first inning batting by San Diego against Leopards starting pitcher senior Amber Hall.
La Verne struck back in the third inning as junior center fielder Lindsey Weber banged a hard pitch over the fence driving in a run for her second home run of the season. Weber finished the game with one hit and two runs batted in to add to her .482 average, which currently tops the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference leader-board.
San Diego went scoreless until the fourth inning, when the Toreros added one run to extend their lead to 6-3, going into the bottom of the inning. La Verne did not back down, adding one of its own in the fourth on a home run by junior first baseman Sophia Garcia, her first of the season.
San Diego would add two more runs in the sixth inning to put the game and Hall away by the final score of 8-5, although La Verne had out-batted the Toreros 10 to seven hits in the first of two.
“The UCSD games were significant as far as a regional perspective, but we should not have lost the first game,” said head coach Julie Kline.
In the second game, San Diego started where they had left off in the first game, scoring two quick runs in the first inning to again place the Leopards in a desperate position to catch up.
After a second inning home run by the Toreros, the Leopards decided to strike back, scoring three runs in the second after a two-run homer from sophomore catcher Kadie Tillema, her sixth of the season and team-leader in home runs, had set the pace for the team.
La Verne added another run in the fourth on a solo home run by junior shortstop Kari Abbott to up the Leopard lead to 4-3 at the halfway mark of the game.
Strong pitching from freshman Robin Haaker kept the Toreros scoreless the remainder of the game and allowed her to pick up her eighth win with a final score of 5-3 in her first year as a Leopard. La Verne finished the day with 15 hits and only one error in a split of the series on Friday.
“Each one of players, at different times, has stepped up over the course of the season. Last weekend everyone stepped up,” said Kline.
The second home series on Saturday, which would be the last regular season match for La Verne, featured a SCIAC match up against the last place Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, who put up fight but fell to the red hot Leopards in both games 7-6 and 8-0.
La Verne came out ready to play on Saturday after a much needed split of the San Diego series by scoring two runs early in the first inning and one in the third to Pomona-Pitzer’s one run to take the lead.
The Sagehens kept strong on defense and kept La Verne scoreless in the fourth, while putting up three runs in the top of the fifth inning on a home run by Pomona-Pitzer’s shortstop Ranee Morales and two runs batted in by pitcher Sharon Silveira.
Although Pomona-Pitzer had taken the lead 4-3, La Verne struck back in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at four after a hit by junior left fielder Natalee Wiebe scored sophomore pinch hitter Jamie Anderson going into the sixth.
The sixth inning was a battle for both teams as each team rallied to score two runs, first by Pomona-Pitzer on a double by Silveira and second by La Verne on a matching two-run double by Abbott in the bottom of the inning.
The seventh inning belonged to La Verne as Hall managed to keep the Sagehens from scoring and the Leopards’ offense added the winning run to extend Halls stellar record to 13-3 overall on the season after the 7-6 victory in the first game.
“I felt we were very lucky to win the first game, but the second game was a better indicator of our ability as a team,” said Kline.
The second of the two games belonged to La Verne as it rallied in the first and third to combine 13 hits into six runs before the start of the fourth inning.
Haaker was again strong on the mound for the Leopards, only allowing two hits and no walks in an 8-0 victory over a very worn out Pomona-Pitzer team.
“I am extremely proud of this team. The success that we have had is the result of their strong work ethic and desire to be the best everyday,” said Kline.
Saturday’s sweep of the Sagehens helped La Verne softball solidify its second place ranking in SCIAC with a league record of 10-2 and improved the Leopards overall record to 22-8 going into the SCIAC tournament.
“We have won three out of our last four games and we have had a good week of practice. We will definitely be ready for SCIAC,” said Kline.
La Verne will start competition today in the SCIAC Single Round Robin Tournament hosting Pomona-Pitzer.