The softball team swept the defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Whittier College Poets, 5-2 and 6-0, in a doubleheader Saturday at Campus West.
The team is now 8-2 in the SCIAC play and 9-4 overall.
“We love sweeps. Our goal is to finish first in SCIAC and to do that, we have to sweep teams,” senior pitcher and designated hitter Katherine Kibbe said. “Getting the defending champs is awesome. We played solid innings, and if we keep that up each weekend, there’s no reason we won’t accomplish our goal.”
The Leopards made some defensive adjustments and really emphasized defensive play during practice throughout the week head coach Julie Smith said.
“We just had to make some kind of shifts, and I think that helped us defensively,” Smith said.
Freshman right fielder Rachel Ogata opened up the scoring for La Verne in the bottom of the third inning.
Ogata doubled to left center and drove in freshman pinch runner Michelle Deguzman to score.
The Leopards scored two more runs in the fourth inning to bring the score to 3-0.
Freshman catcher Melissa Garcia singled up the middle to bring home junior first baseman Alexis Schiff.
Senior shortstop Raeleen Tellez followed with a single and brought home Kibbe, who was the designated hitter.
The Poets got on the board to come within one in the top of the fifth.
Freshman right fielder Kacey Whitney hit a two-run home run to center field to bring home sophomore center fielder Ally Fonseca.
Schiff answered right back with a two-run homer of her own to right center field in the bottom of the fifth, to put La Verne up, 5-2.
Schiff finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Junior pitcher Hayley Jaquess went six innings, giving up one earned run and striking out three.
Senior pitcher Lyndsay Godwin came in the seventh to close out the game and seal the win for the Leopards.
La Verne carried their defensive momentum into the second game of the doubleheader, and shut out the Poets, 6-0.
The Leopards struck early in the game, bringing home three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Senior third baseman Mackenzie Dutton singled to the left side to bring in freshman center fielder Carly Condon for the score. Dutton managed to reach second base on a throwing error from the outfield.
She finished the game 2-for-3 with a run, and one RBI, and was named Leopard of The Week.
Kibbe bunted to advance Dutton to third and brought in senior second baseman Victoria Baltazar.
Freshman left fielder Sienna Kendricks then singled to bring home Dutton to give the Leopards the 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kibbe hit her second home run of the season with a blast to left field to put La Verne up, 4-0.
“The home run was on a low change-up with two strikes so it was a little funky,” Kibbe said. “Any extra run support is good, so I’ll take it.”
Kibbe finished 2-for-3 at the plate.
Schiff hit her second two-run homer of the day to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring Dutton to put La Verne up, 6-0.
“I just tried to keep it simple. I feel like I’ve been trying too hard,” Schiff said. “I wanted to go more for base hits and the homers just kinda happened.”
Kibbe pitched her fourth complete game and first shutout game.
“It’s always nice to be able to go all seven. That’s what we expect from our starters every time,” Kibbe said. “The defense was really solid so that makes it nice and easy for me to do my job. Being able to get the shutout, especially against the defending champs is really awesome.”
She struck out seven batters and only gave up three hits.
The team still has to work on basic fundamentals, but everyone has high hopes to get to the SCIAC postseason tournament this year, and even a goal of appearing in the College World Series appearance.
“Sky is the limit. We have to take care of each and every game,” Smith said. “Any time you’re going for a goal like this, you have to set your goals high.”
The Leopards will face the Occidental Tigers in a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday at Campus West.
Jose Brambila can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.