Softball posts strong Div. 3 wins

by Heather Baxter
Staff Writer

Division level differences were the University of La Verne softball team’s undoing as it followed up two victories with two disappointing defeats this week.

The Leopards continued their dominance in the Chapman Tournament last Friday, with two strong wins over Otterbein and Colorado Colleges.

La Verne’s 7-4 victory over Colorado College saw a quick start as the Leopards took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.

Sacrifices and misplays by the opposing defense allowed La Verne to capitalize on opportunities early. Only three of the five runs scored during the second inning were earned.

La Verne never relinquished the lead, and despite answering runs from Colorado’s offense, came out with the win.

The trend of strong offense and defense from La Verne continued, as it disposed of Otterbein College in only five innings, 9-0.

Scoring seven in the first two innings allowed the Leopards to again take an early lead. Again, La Verne would not give it up.

Winning pitcher sophomore Robin Haaker pitched a perfect game, and helped herself out, scoring a run in the second inning.

Other notable performances were turned in by designate player junior Jennifer Thompson, who went 3-for-3, with an RBI and a run scored.

Division I University of San Diego’s softball team proved too much for the visiting Leopards as they followed up their excellent Friday performance by dropping two games to the Toreros on Sunday.

“I think we had mental let downs in both games at crucial times,” said head coach Julie Kline. “It makes it difficult to win big games.”

The Leopards dropped game one, 9-1, despite impressive performances from senior second baseman Sophia Garcia, who went 2-for-3.

The Torero offense struggled early on, scattering only four hits throughout the first four innings.

“We had difficulty adjusting,” said USD head coach Lynn Adams. “It wasn’t just the speed that was throwing the hitters off, but she [pitcher Haaker] was really moving the ball.”

The Toreros were able to overcome their offensive struggles in the fifth, though, as they rallied to a 6-0 lead, scoring four in the bottom of the fifth.

The Leopards answered back in the sixth, scoring one, as senior left fielder Lindsey Weber’s sacrifice fly allowed senior center fielder Heather Johnson to score from third.

Three more runs in the bottom of the sixth gave the Toreros a 9-1 lead, as the game was called due to the eight-run mercy rule.

USD’s right fielder freshman Katie Morrison and its junior catcher, Shaunna Collo, both had 2 RBI, going a combined 5-for-8.

La Verne’s offensive woes continued, as the second game found them facing former Oklahoma State University’s pitcher Amy Lopez.

The Toreros defeated the Leopards again by the eight-run mercy rule, as they took an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

Lopez, a junior, who relied mainly on her new drop pitch, held the Leopards to only six hits in 22 at-bats.

La Verne’s Weber was the only player who seemed to pick up on Lopez’s pitching style. She went 3-for-3, with two singles and a double.

Although other Leopards learned to lay off the low pitches that were offered up from Lopez, La Verne was not able to execute when runners were on base.

Only the sixth inning found more than one runner on the bases at one time, and it was also only for the second time in the sixth where a runner was able to make it past first base.

Again, the Torero offense, although it struggled early, exploded in one inning, where, in the third, they scored three, and in the sixth, they scored five.

“I just reminded them [the players] of the fundamentals,” said Adams. “I reminded them that she [Lopez] was getting us the ground balls that we needed to get the outs. We needed to get her some support.”

“It was just lucky for us that [La Verne’s] hits were so spread out. These were some good batters who made some good adjustments,” she said.

USD’s freshman shortstop Nicole Geis, who went a combined 2-for-6, with an RBI and two runs scored over the two games, agreed.

“We are a slow team when it comes to adjusting. That works against us because it gives the other team an opportunity to score. When we do adjust, we explode, but sometimes it comes too late” she said. “We need to get better at adjusting … sooner.

Geis, who was involved in several pivotal plays that staunched rally opportunities for the Leopards, also said, “The pitching was excellent. We aren’t used to off-speed, junk pitching. It really threw us off.”

Kline was pleased with the team’s overall performance, despite the fact that they were unable to pull out a victory.

“[These games were] not our best, but it showed we can hold our own regardless of who we play.” she said. “This team, player for player, is the strongest team we have had in the seven years I have been here. As I have said before, ‘consistency’ is the key for us.”

Heather Baxter

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