The La Verne softball team welcomed the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Engineers to Campus West on March 9 with a doubleheader sweep, winning game one, 6-4, and game two, 9-5.
“It’s really hard to win two games in a row,” head coach Dennis Blas said. “You have to give credit to the whole team.”
Game two began with Leopards’ junior pitcher Jocelyn Robertson on the mound, coming in with a 4-4 record and 3.77 ERA.
Worcester junior center fielder Sydney Russell led off the game with a single up the middle. She advanced to second on a ground out from graduate student shortstop Lindsay Ambrosino. Freshman third baseman Destiny Lum hit an RBI single, scoring Russell and putting WPI on top, 1-0, in the top of the first inning.
The Leopards tied the game when sophomore left fielder Ashley Rodriguez hit a home run off of Engineers sophomore pitcher Kelly Pritchard in the bottom of the second inning.
“Being patient at the plate helped,” Rodriguez said. “I saw a lot of good pitches today.”
With two runners on base in the top of the third inning, Ambrosino hit a home run, making the score 4-1 Worcester. Robertson gave up a double to Lum, and Blas handed the ball to freshman pitcher Jaidyn Alvarez.
After recording two quick outs, freshman first baseman Emma Nagy singled to left field, advancing Lum to third. Senior second baseman Alicia Salvalzo brought in Lum with an RBI single to shortstop, increasing the Leopards’ deficit to 5-1.
The Leopards fought back in the bottom of the third inning when freshman catcher Isabella Garcia doubled to left center, bringing in senior shortstop Taylor Gray, who had singled in the previous at-bat.
Senior first baseman Marissa Acosta then hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring Isabella Garcia and bringing the Leopards to within two runs. Rodriguez reached base via walk, and then Acosta and Rodriguez stole second and third. Sophomore second baseman Erika Garcia hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Acosta and tightening the score, 5-4.
WPI changed pitchers, putting senior Sophia Togneri on the mound to replace Pritchard.
Junior third baseman Mia Pintado reached first on a fielding error, bringing in Rodriguez and tying the game, 5-5.
The game was still tied in the top of the fifth inning, but Worcester was threatening.
With the bases loaded and two outs, La Verne senior Rachel Rubio came in to pitch after throwing 99 pitches in the first game. She was facing Ambrosino, who hit the three run home run in the top of the third inning.
Rubio struck her out to end the inning and hold the score, 5-5.
“I worked really hard in the bullpen both games,” Rubio said. “I had no doubt that I was going to shut them down.”
Togneri walked Rodriguez with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to begin a two-out rally. Rodriguez stole second and scored when Erika Garcia hit an RBI single to left field, giving the Leopards their first lead of the game.
Pintado singled to left field, advancing Garcia to third. Junior Julie Contreras recorded a pinch hit RBI single to right field, binging in Erika Garcia and giving the Leopards the lead by two.
The Leopards added insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after Nagy walked junior center fielder Haylee Hsieh, who then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Hsieh scored when Gray grounded out to third base, making the score 8-5.
Isabella Garcia then reached first on a throwing error and then came freshman Isabella Bastien to pinch run for Garcia. Bastien crossed home plate when Acosta hit an RBI double to left field, cushioning the Leopards lead by four runs.
“We answered back with great energy and made the adjustments needed,” Erika Garcia said.
Rubio finished out the game, making the 9-5 win official.
The Leopards are 11-6 overall and 1-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
They will travel to Pomona-Pitzer to begin a three game series against the Sagehens at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by a doubleheader against them at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday at Campus West.
Sydney Ferris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.