Youth makes team’s success sustainable

Catcher Kadie Tillema leads the team in a prayer before it took the field for its game against UC San Diego last Saturday afternoon. The game, which was part of the Regional Playoffs, was a defeat and the last game for ULV in the playoffs with a final score of 5-4. The Leopards closed out their season with an overall record of 20-21, and four of those losses to UCSD. / photo by Erica Paal
Catcher Kadie Tillema leads the team in a prayer before it took the field for its game against UC San Diego last Saturday afternoon. The game, which was part of the Regional Playoffs, was a defeat and the last game for ULV in the playoffs with a final score of 5-4. The Leopards closed out their season with an overall record of 20-21, and four of those losses to UCSD. / photo by Erica Paal

by Enrique Gutiérrez
Staff Writer

With a win and two losses in the West Region Championship, the University of La Verne softball team ended its 2000 season.

Although the Leopards were unable to advance further in the regional tournament, the season has been a success.

La Verne conquered the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, after finishing second the last couple of years, with a 14-4 record, one game ahead of 1999 champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

The La Verne team has talent, but the most thrilling aspect of the squad is that the roster is full of youngsters.

“We are a young team and we have a lot of years ahead of us. We only have one person leaving,” said freshman pitcher Mandy Tillema. “We are going to come back and we are going to be so awesome next year.”

This year’s squad featured eight freshmen, six of whom were regular starters, at coach Julie Kline’s disposal.

First baseman Sue Whitcher, shortstop Gina Meza and center fielder Libby Ramos, all of them freshmen and all of them All-SCIAC first team selections, led the Leopard attack with batting averages of .461, .444 and .367, respectively.

“I think our hitting is very good,” said freshman outfielder Jackie Russo, whose .319 batting average ranked her sixth on the team. “We are a very good offensive team.”

La Verne hit .325 for the season, and held the opposition to .271.

On the mound, sophomore Lacey Cramer led the pitching rotation with a 1.84 ERA and a 6-5 record. Junior utility player Robin Haaker had a 6-4 pitching record, while Tillema led the team in innings pitched with 81.

Eight Leopards earned All-SCIAC honors. Besides the three freshmen, senior catcher Kadie Tillema, who will return next year, was also named a member of the all-conference first team. Russo, Cramer, Haaker and graduating senior Jennifer Thompson earned spots on the second team.

Meza, Ramos and Thompson were also named to the All-West Regionals team.

“I’m happy that in my last year we went to regionals,” said Thompson. “The team has great talent and they can only move up from here.”

“I’m pretty satisfied with the whole season,” said Ramos. “It went really well. I’m happy to be a part of the La Verne organization. It was a lot of fun.”

After having played at regionals, the players know next year could be even more fun if they use the experience gained this weekend.

“We had our ups and our downs,” said Mandy Tillema. “I think we stepped up a lot more this weekend as a team.”

“We showed everybody that we can compete with everybody. We showed that we belong,” said Meza. “We are going to take this [the tournament] next year.”

Russo said, “We learned that we will have to step up when it comes time for regionals. Next year we’ll be more prepared.”

In order for that to actually happen, La Verne will have to execute and avoid mental errors top teams do not make.

“We are right there with them. We can beat them,” said Tillema. “We just need to focus. We just need to hit the ball and field the ball.”

However, despite being the driving force of the squad, freshmen will need the guidance of the upper classmen, and will look to experienced players such as Haaker, Cramer and junior second baseman Michelle Bocanegra.

“They should pump us up and keep us together,” said Russo.

The elements are there, ready to execute Kline’s game plan. It is just a matter of putting them together in the right way and pointing them toward the road to the top.

Latest Stories

Related articles

Winterburn to be permanent athletic director

Scott Winterburn, who has served as Interim Athletic Director for the past two years will be the permanent AD, University officials announced this week. 

Interim athletic director named

The University of La Verne has named head baseball coach Scott Winterburn as interim director of athletics.

University cancels women’s tennis program

Following the men’s team path to cancelation and ending 50 years of tradition in the sport, University of La Verne women’s tennis program was suspended with no plans of reinstatement.

Gajdosik shines light on intramurals

The hallway that once had just vending machines and trophies in the Athletics Pavilion now has a hole in the wall. From that hole shines the light of a new office for Laura Gajdosik, the intramural sports coordinator.