The Leopard softball team dropped both games in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against the Chapman Panthers at Campus West on Friday, losing game one, 3-1, and game two, 10-3.
The Leopards came into the doubleheader holding a 10-14 overall record with a 6-6 record in SCIAC play.
In game one, senior right fielder Sienna Kendricks started things out strong for the Leopards with a double to left field in the first inning. Unfortunately, the Leopards’ offense could not get her to home plate for a score.
Sophomore pitcher Jiana Rojo pitched a gem of a game, striking out seven hitters while getting out of multiple jams throughout the full seven innings of game one.
Rojo also got the call to pitch the final four innings of game two.
“I just tell myself not to focus on the last play, focus on the present. I try not to think about what just happened, I just move on to the next. I know my team has my back,” said Rojo on how she’s able to handle difficult pitching scenarios with multiple runners on base.
Game one featured a great display of pitching and defense throughout the first four innings.
Senior catcher Melissa Garcia got the Leopards on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with a one run home run that she crushed over the left center field fence to make the score 1-0.
“I just kept a clear head and knew that I had to hit the ball hard, so that’s what I did,” said Garcia on the home run.
Chapman would respond in the sixth inning with a couple of multi-base hits, which would lead to a pair of runs from sophomore utility player Mykala Tokunaga and senior pitcher Samantha Whalen, making the score 2-1.
Chapman would add to their lead in the seventh inning following a pair of throwing errors that allowed junior infielder Michaela Foisy to reach home plate and give the Panthers a 3-1 lead.
The Leopards tried to answer back, but were unable to add any runs to the score and dropped game one, 3-1.
Chapman struck first in game two. After the combination of a base hit, a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt, Foisy was able to reach home plate and make it a 1-0 game.
The Leopards faced several situations throughout both games in which they were one crucial hit away from scoring multiple runs and taking commanding leads.
Interim head coach Henry Moranchel credits the fact that sometimes his players want to do a little too much when at bat.
“Instead of going easy, they are looking for the big hit instead of keeping it simple. It’s all about balancing it,” said Moranchel. “We want them to hit hard; we want them to hit home runs and things like that, but they have to find the right times.”
Great pitching and tough defense took over the next three innings with neither team finding any momentum to take over.
Chapman ended the scoring drought and added a run to their lead in the fifth in a similar fashion to the first inning.
Foisy reached second base off of a base hit, followed by a stolen base that put her in scoring position. Junior center fielder Christine LoVerde doubled to right center field to allow Foisy to score.
The Leopards finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning thanks to sophomore first baseman Gabriella Underwood, who hit a one run homer over the left field fence to make it a 2-1 contest.
“We were down 1-0 for a couple of innings,” Underwood said. “I wanted to get on base and didn’t care how it happened. It happened to go over the fence, scored a run for our team and helped us to score more.”
Junior utility player Katheryn Navarro and senior outfielder Rachel Ogata added two additional runs during the next two innings to help the Leopards tie the game late.
With the bases loaded and one out, the Leopards had a golden opportunity to drive in the walk off run and win the game.
However, a controversial strikeout called by the umpire and a failed attempt to steal home plate led to no runs for the Leopards, forcing the game into extra innings.
Following a scoreless eighth inning, Chapman reignited their offense in the ninth by scoring seven runs to ultimately put the game out of reach.
The Leopards lost game two, 10-3.
The Leopards face conference rival Redlands in a doubleheader Saturday in Redlands at noon and 2 p.m.
Christopher Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.