The softball team split a doubleheader against No. 7 Berry College Sunday after being swept by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 8-7 and 5-3, the previous day.
The Leopards have a tough schedule in a preparation for this year’s Southern California Intercollegiate Conference Championship, looking to repeat as regular season champions for a fourth straight year.
“When (teams like Berry) come here to play La Verne softball, they aren’t coming to play lower caliber teams,” interim head coach Henry Moranchel said. “They come here (and) we set the schedules on purpose to make them better, so regardless of the outcomes of these games we know we are getting a great learning experience.”
In the first game against Berry, the Leopards held the momentum both on defense and on offense. This allowed them to control the flow of the game.
Sophomore pitcher Jiana Rojo brought the heat to their No. 7 ranked opponent.
Senior center fielder Carly Condon brought in a run off of a sac fly allowing junior third base Justice Borden to get the Leopards on the board. The Leopards stuck to their independent game plan.
“We focused on ourselves, not worrying about the other team and what they are doing but what we are going to do,” junior shortstop Shelby Tevis said.
In the first game, the Leopards held strong and took control early. By maintaining the momentum of the first game they were able to quicken the pace and come away with a win 3-2.
But during the game two, Berry separated from the Leopards, creating a 7-0 deficit to secure the win going into the fifth inning. Berry came out with a big push in the top of the fifth inning to take the momentum, holding it for the rest of the game, winning 9-5.
“Keeping our momentum going in the first game – we were really in the game the whole time and when it’s close everyone is in the game,” senior left field Rachel Ogata said. “We need to work on our positive energy and even if we are down, we keep our heads up.”
The outcome of the games displayed the resilience the team can show its opponents. They came back in the bottom of the fifth inning when they mustered four runs to cut the deficit to three points.
Although the Leopards fought back, Berry was able to hold them to five runs.
Condon said this weekend’s competition excited her, as it helped prove they can compete with the nation’s best.
“It’s a great fact to know that we played the number seventh that’s ranked for DIII and we were able to compete with them and it shows that we can compete with any team no matter what they are ranked.” Condon said.
Moving forward, the Leopards have a tough schedule, facing three ranked teams.
“The next couple of weeks (have) tons of talented teams, it shows you we just split with the number seven team and played them tough,” Moranchel said.
They would go on to lose both games to No. 3 Ithaca College, 6-5 and 8-0, Wednesday.
The Leopards are now 7-7 overall and 3-3 in conference, putting them in fifth place behind Whittier, Chapman, Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Leopards host Whittier for a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m. at Campus West Saturday.
Rex Sample can be reached at email@example.com.