Tartans dominate Leopards in doubleheader

Junior catcher Natalia Aguilera bats for the La Verne Leopards against Carnegie Mellon March 11. The Leopards lost the first game of the doubleheader, 7-1. / photo by Jashelle Ranson
Junior catcher Natalia Aguilera bats for the La Verne Leopards against Carnegie Mellon March 11. The Leopards lost the first game of the doubleheader, 7-1. / photo by Jashelle Ranson

Eric Esquibel
Staff Writer

The La Verne softball team was unable to fend off the Carnegie Mellon Tartans in both games of their doubleheader March 11 at Campus West. The final scores were 7-1 and 3-2. 

The Leopards are currently 12-6 on the season after splitting a series to the 15-3 University of Texas Comets this past week. The Leopards are currently 2-1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 

The two losses against Carnegie Mellon came at the end of a busy week for the Leopards as they played a total of six games, going 3-3. 

(Playing six games) is tough. You want to play your best. You want to do good and be a champion, then you have to go out there and beat the best,” head coach Dennis Blas said. “We played three very good teams and we have to make adjustments, we did not make enough adjustments against them.” 

In the final game of the week, the Leopards were off to a slow start against the Tartans in the second game of the doubleheader. The Leopards’ offense had moments in the second inning when senior utility player Kathryn Navarro was on third base after a double down-field from junior first baseman Janisa Rojo, but Carnegie Mellon’s defense held. 

The third inning looked hopeful for the Leopards as freshman shortstop Ericka Garcia hit a double and on the next pitch sophomore center fielder Haylee Hseih hit a line drive single. 

Shortly after Hseih got on base, she was able to quickly steal second and the Leopards looked to score first. This was Hsieh’s 14th base stolen this season. The rest of the Leopards team has 17 bases stolen this season.

“I think it’s really important to have confidence in your speed when you’re stealing and to have a good jump and leave on time,” Hseih said. “I also have to keep an eye out just in case my teammate up to bat hits it so I can stay out of the way.”

The Leopards fought hard but were still unable to get on the board in the third inning despite the opportunities. Carnegie Mellon scored the first run in the fifth inning but the Leopards soon answered in the sixth inning. 

With the Tartans on the board, the Leopards acted quick and scored two runs, having a lead over Carnegie Mellon for the first time in the series. The first run came off of a triple from freshman right fielder Ashley Rodriguez. She was able to score the run after a drop by Tartans’ sophomore third baseman Emily Finger. 

Rodriguez, being new to the team, has had no issue adjusting to the pace of college softball. She has 11 RBIs and five doubles so far in her first season. 

“I had an easy time adjusting,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like playing with the girls is definitely making me work harder and I’m just trying to learn as much from the upperclassmen as possible.”

The second run for the Leopards was a home run by junior first baseman Marisa Acosta, her second of the season. 

The Leopards’ defense allowed Carnegie Mellon to score two more runs in the seventh inning after an error and two hits. With the lead stolen, the Leopards tried to pull together a comeback but the Carnegie Mellon team would not budge. The Tartans held off the Leopards 3-2. 

“I think we started the week off strong, however as we kept moving through the week I could tell the longevity of the week got to us,” starting junior pitcher Rachel Rubio said. “That’s where we just need to look at it as a learning and growing moment because our season is far from over and we plan to go far.”

The Leopards will have their second SCIAC series and look to add onto their 2-1 conference record against the Whittier Poets in a three-game series next week. They will travel to Whittier for a 3 p.m. game March 18, followed by a doubleheader at noon March 19 at Campus West.

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

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