Adam Van Lul
The La Verne softball team won both games against the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, 4-2 and 5-4, Friday afternoon.
With the wins, the team’s record improved to 6-0 overall, following opening wins over St. Katherine and Vanguard.
La Verne started the scoring early in the bottom of the first when senior third baseman Justice Borden’s bloop single to left brought home senior first baseman Kat Navarro.
Borden drove in two more runs in the bottom of the third inning with a hard-hit double to right, giving the Leopards a 3-0 lead. She finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
“I think honestly we were just trying to help each other out. I tried to be as aggressive as I could be the first at-bat and I tried to help my team out anyway I could,” Borden said.
The Leopards tallied their final run in the bottom of the fifth inning when junior starting pitcher Jiana Rojo helped her own cause by driving in Navarro with an infield single.
It was a close play at the plate but Navarro was safe and the Leopards led 4-0.
Rojo was also fantastic on the mound, holding the Lutes scoreless through the first five innings. The only blemish on her outing was a two-run home run to left by Lutes freshman catcher Mikayla Chun in the top of the sixth.
The La Verne hurler pitched a complete game, scattering five hits and striking out seven batters on 128 pitches. Her record improved to 3-0 on the season.
“I was pretty composed the whole time. My defense played very well, so I wasn’t very worried about the balls being hit to them,” Rojo said.
One of those defenders was senior shortstop Shelby Tevis, who made two key plays that prevented runs from scoring.
“Usually I just try to stay focused and have my pitcher’s back. Just play relaxed and not too stressful,” Tevis said.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the fourth inning, Tevis made a tough play on a grounder and fired a strike to first, just beating the runner by a step. The play ended the inning and kept the Lutes from mounting a comeback.
“We got some runs early and Justice Borden was very clutch with her three RBIs and Jiana Rojo threw a great game. We gave her some runs today. That’s always helpful,” head coach Dennis Blas said.
La Verne would go on to win game two in thrilling fashion.
Trailing 4-3 and down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore left fielder Francheska Juarez scored the tying run on a wild pitch.
Later in the frame, junior second baseman Niyah Brown drove home senior center fielder Kayla Giannatasio with a single up the middle, winning the game 5-4.
The Leopards will attempt to continue their hot start to the season when they host the No. 11 ranked Linfield Wildcats at noon Sunday in another doubleheader.
Adam Van Lul can be reached at email@example.com.