The La Verne softball team split the doubleheader against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday at Campus West. The Leopards got the victory in game one, 5-4, but could not follow it up, losing game two, 5-3.
Junior pitcher Rachel Rubio took the mound for the Leopards in game two of the doubleheader with a record of 12-5.
She pitched around a lot of tough situations throughout the game. The Athenas managed to get plenty of lead-off hitters on, causing trouble for Rubio and the defense.
Rubio also pitched against the Athenas in the first game of the series Friday, getting the shutout win 4-0 in Claremont, so the Athenas knew Rubio’s repertoire and capitalized late in the game.
“I knew coming into the game they were going to be more aggressive and eager to hit,” Rubio said. “I managed to get them out a lot on my screwball. My off speed helped me get out of trouble today compared to yesterday.”
Rubio pitched back to back 1-2-3 innings in the beginning of the game, looking dominant by keeping the Athena batters unbalanced with multiple off speed pitches.
The Leopards’ offense struggled to get things going in the first three innings. But senior utility player Katheryn Navarro got the Leopards on the board first with a solo home run in the fourth to make the score 1-0.
“My mindset was just trying to make contact and get a hit for the team because we needed one,” said Navarro. “My coach tells me to see the ball, hit the ball. And that’s what I did.”
In the top of the fifth inning, the Athenas’ offense answered right back in a significant way. Rubio gave up two straight hits to start the inning, then Claremont senior third baseman Lauren Richards followed with a three run home run to give the Athenas the lead, 3-1.
The Leopards’ offense struck again in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run off the bat of freshman left fielder Ashley Rodriguez, making it a close 3-2 game.
“I knew I was struggling in the first game, so heading into this one I knew I had to step up,” Rodriguez said. “I just found a pitch I could handle and drove it.”
After an uneventful sixth inning from both teams, the Athenas’ offense dealt themselves insurance, capped off with a two run home run by freshman left fielder Abby Thompson for a comfortable 5-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Leopards’ offense tried to get a rally going and Rodriguez once again provided the team with an RBI base hit to make it 5-3. But the Leopards’ scoring stopped there, giving the Athenas the win.
Rubio was charged with the loss, putting her record to 12-6.
“Claremont-M-S is a very good program. Hats off to them,” head coach Dennis Blas said. “The problem is we just need to be more consistent. Consistency wins games and we didn’t make in-game adjustments, and it showed here in game two.”
The team is 19-9 overall and 6-3 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Leopards open a three-game series against Occidental at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Campus West.
Aidan Balderas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.