by Reginald Miller
Traveling to Azusa Pacific Tuesday for a doubleheader, the University of La Verne softball team had an upset in mind.
Unfortunately, the NAIA’s third-ranked team was able to hold off the Leopards in both games, 3-2 and 9-1.
In the first game, ULV took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning before the Cougars erupted for three runs, sealing the Leopards fate.
“I think that we played pretty good, we just let our guard down in the sixth inning. They got some good base hits along with two major errors that we didn’t need to happen, and we lost by one,” said freshman first baseman Jamila Anderson.
A lopsided 9-1 score was the final of the nightcap, completing a sweep of the doubleheader for the Cougars. The score was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning before things started to come unglued for the Leopards. By the end of the inning, the Cougars had racked up six runs and never looked back.
“In the sixth inning we had two crucial errors,” said injured junior Amy Perkins. “They had five hits that inning, they capitalized off those errors, and that is what killed us.”
Prior to the doubleheader at Azusa Pacific, the Leopards ventured out to Orange County last weekend to compete in a tournament at Chapman University. Playing four games in two days, the Leopards settled for a split. In the first two games played on Friday, ULV defeated Gustavus Adolphus University 5-1 and De Pauw University 9-1. Those two victories ran the Leopards’ winning streak to five games.
On Saturday, the Leopards’ opponents got the last laugh as La Verne lost 7-6 to California Baptist and 4-3 to host Chapman.
Despite losing their last four games, the Leopards remain in first place atop the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with a record of 12-4. The four losses dropped the Leopards overall record to 15-14.
With two SCIAC games remaining, a league title is on the horizon for the Leopards, and a certain automatic berth to regionals. What started off as a young and inexperienced team this year has, over the course of the season, come a long way, and is now playing as a cohesive unit.
“We’re coming together, were real good right now,” said Perkins. “People are feeling more comfortable now in their positions, we have a couple of injuries right now, but hopefully we are getting over those.”
Tomorrow the Leopards can seal up a first place finish in SCIAC by sweeping Occidental at Eagle Rock in the team’s final conference series. The first game of the doubleheader starts at noon. In the first confrontation between the two teams this year, La Verne came away with a 6-3 victory during a SCIAC round-robin tournament.
The last time the Leopards won the SCIAC crown outright was 1993.
“We played them once and they gave us a little bit of a game, but we were OK,” said Anderson. “I think we should take them.”