Leopards win series against rival Poets

Eric Esquibel
Staff Writer

The La Verne softball team faced off against the Whittier Poets in a three-game series Friday and Saturday. The Leopards won the first meeting Friday in Whittier, 7-6, as well as the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Campus West, 4-3. The Poets earned a 6-2 victory in the second game of the doubleheader. 

The Leopards were on a three-game win streak before the Poets beat them in the final matchup of the series. The Leopards finished this series with a record of 14-7 and have a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record of 4-2.  

“I thought we did really well, we came out really strong,” junior second baseman Taylor Gray said. “Obviously we didn’t like the end result of the third game.” 

In Friday’s game, the Leopards let their 6-4 lead slip away as the Poets tied the game in the final inning of regulation. 

Both teams were hitless in the eighth inning. But when the ninth inning came, senior utility player Katheryn Navarro hit the game-winning double allowing Gray to score the winning run. 

Navarro had scored five RBIs across the three games against Whittier, giving her 19 so far in her last season with the team. 

“I am always trying to make contact with the ball and score the runs needed for our team so we can keep earning these victories,” Navarro said. “We did make a bit of errors but we bounced back, we can still clean those up and perfect our game.”

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader was another close affair as the Poets scored three runs at the start of the first inning. The Leopards were able to answer back in the third inning with a run of their own. Sophomore center fielder Haylee Hsieh hit a double to the outfield drove in Navarro for the first Leopards run. 

The Leopards’ defense proved too strong for the Poets as they held Whittier scoreless for the rest of the game. The Leopards started to gain momentum in the sixth inning as they scored another run after a walk with bases loaded. 

In the seventh inning, the Leopards scored two more runs after a big hit from Navarro which allowed Hsieh to race for home plate. The Poets’ freshman catcher Maya Palos missed tagging Hsieh as she slid for home, tying the game. Right as Hsieh scored the game-tying run, Navarro took the opportunity to rush to third base where Poet senior third baseman Yolanda Oregel missed the catch.

Sprinting to home plate, Navarro successfully beat the throw and scored the game-winning run. 

“Anytime you can win a series this big, especially the way we won that first game, where we were down in the beginning, it means something”, head coach Dennis Blas. “We had our senior Navarro who was on fire today and really stepped up to help us win this series.”

The Leopards lost the final game of the series, 6-2 following a fifth inning offensive explosion by the Poets.

“I think we ended off on a good series before going out to Oregon,” Hsieh said. “We got some wins to get back on track, so I am excited to show up over there.” 

The Leopards will fly out to Oregon for a four game road trip facing George Fox University in a doubleheader Friday, followed by another doubleheader against Linfield on Saturday. 

Eric Esquibel can be reached at eric.esquibel@laverne.edu.

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Eric Esquibel, a senior broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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