Softball splits waters in doubleheader against Pirates

Sarah Van Buskirk
Editor-in-Chief

After coming off a sweep to the Puget Sound Loggers, the University of La Verne softball team kept the energy high for the opening game of the doubleheader against the Whitworth Pirates as they took a 2-1 win, Saturday morning at Campus West. 

Unfortunately, their momentum ran out in game two as they followed up with a five inning 8-0 loss that afternoon. With disregard to the score, the Leopards improved their overall record to 4-3.

Junior pitcher Jocelyn Robertson pitched the whole game for the Leopards as she kept the Pirates on a short leash giving up five hits and only one earned run early in the first inning. 

“We got off to a rough start in the first inning, but we got it back,” Robertson said. “I know my defense has my back during every single play out there.”

That run began with junior infielder Haley Montoya, who opened up the Pirates at-bat with a single to shortstop. From there, Whitworth’s graduate student infielder Mattea Nelson knocked one into left field for an RBI-double to bring home Montoya and steal an early lead of 1-0. 

The Leopards held their heads high and hoped to get their insurance runs immediately.

In the bottom of the first inning and at the top of the batting order, sophomore outfielder Ashley Rodriguez connected the ball to the warning track for a double. Second in the order, junior outfielder Haylee Hsieh blasted one into left field for an RBI-triple that tied up the game 1-1.

To put the Leopards on top, freshman infielder Isabella Garcia hit a grounder to third base, and Nelson could not keep control of the ball, which rounded Rodriguez home and gave Garcia an RBI-single. 

“Our defense really saved us this game,” Rodriguez said. “We need to adjust to the pitcher better and turn our bats on for the next game.”

After two batters down in the order, junior first baseman Jaylene Jaloma stepped up and sliced one up the middle for a single to advance Garcia to second base. However, the Leopards could not continue capitalizing and ended the inning on the next at-bat. 

The Leopards’ defense performed aggressively, making it difficult for the Pirates to round second base. However, a scare happened in the top of the fourth inning, and with two outs and a man on first and third, head coach Dennis Blas made an appearance on the mound. Though, it was nothing the Leopards rowdiness could not handle as Pirates junior outfielder Jessica Rusconi cracked under the pressure and popped out to right field to release the Leopards from their jam.

“We wanted to bring our energy and wanted to be really loud,” Garcia said. “Most of all getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in by attacking and if we fall behind we want to make sure we get it back.”

Quick 1-2-3 innings trailed along until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Leopards had loaded the bases and Whitworth’s head coach Bob Castle collected his infield at the mound. That short discussion must have ignited some motivation for the Pirates as junior pitcher Corinne Vasiloff struck out junior utility player Mia Pintado to prevent the Leopards from extending their lead.

By withholding the lead, the Leopards were able to finalize the game in the top of the seventh inning and took the 2-1 win over the Pirates.

“We knew Whitworth was going to be a tough opponent, so we wanted to make sure we scored first and had really good defense,” Hsieh said. “We have been struggling with that lately, so it helped that our infield did really good today and we were able to support our pitcher by catching the balls in the outfield.”

The Leopards hosted the Brandeis Owls on Wednesday for another doubleheader however, because of hailstorms the game was interrupted and paused at the end of the fourth inning of game one with the score tied at 1-1. The doubleheader will not be made up and the Leopards will resume to their original schedule.

La Verne will begin their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at 2 p.m. Monday as they travel to face the Redlands Bulldogs to potentially start their conference record on the right foot. They will head home Tuesday for a doubleheader against the Bulldogs starting at 3 p.m. at Campus West.

Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at sarah.vanbuskirk@laverne.edu.  

Sarah Van Buskirk is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. She is the Spring 2024 editorial director for the Campus Times and has recently served as editor-in-chief, sports editor and staff writer. She is also currently a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine, and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine.

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