The La Verne softball team began a three-game series against the Cal Lutheran Regals on April 28 at Campus West, winning game one, 3-2, thanks to a dramatic play by senior left fielder Marissa Acosta.
The series continued at Hutton Field in Thousand Oaks on Saturday, where the Leopards dropped the ball in both games, losing 4-2 and 8-3.
“I’m really proud of my team,” head coach Dennis Blas said. “We have a few games left and we’re going to keep battling.”
Coming in with a 12-7 record, senior pitcher Rachel Rubio started game one for the Leopards.
The top of the first inning began with an error by Acosta, which allowed Cal Lutheran senior first baseman Makayla Lopez to reach second base. Lopez came around to score after a sacrifice bunt from freshman center fielder Nadia Collins and a double off the bat of freshman third baseman Olivia Vargas, giving the Regals an early 1-0 lead.
La Verne answered back in the bottom of the first inning when Cal Lutheran freshman pitcher Casey Edwards walked the leadoff hitter, junior center fielder Haylee Hsieh, who then stole second and crossed home plate when Acosta singled up the middle to tie the game, 1-1.
Edwards took matters into her own hands in the top of the second inning, hitting a solo home run over the center field fence and making up for the run she gave up in the previous inning. Cal Lutheran led 2-1.
La Verne tied up the score again in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior shortstop Taylor Gray hit an RBI double to left center field, allowing junior Cailin Bliss, who pinch ran for freshman first baseman Isabella Garcia after she singled, to score.
“I was in the box just thinking about getting a base hit and keeping it simple,” Gray said. “We had a great game today.”
With Hsieh on second base in the bottom of the fifth inning, Acosta hit the ball to Collins in center field, who dropped it. This error allowed Acosta to reach third base and Hsieh to score, giving La Verne the lead, 3-2.
Rubio was handed the ball back in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, she hit junior shortstop Emily Blank with a pitch.
With the tying run on base and the go ahead run at the plate with one out, Edwards, who had pitched the entire game and hit the solo home run in the second inning, came back up to bat looking to do damage.
Edwards hit the ball to deep left field. The crowd, full of parents and fans, gasped. It looked like this ball was going to go over the fence and give Cal Lutheran the lead.
But Acosta was there. She stuck her glove over the left field fence and robbed Edwards of the go ahead home run.
“My nerves got to me in the first inning, but I reminded myself to just go out there and play,” Acosta said. “That’s exactly what happened with that last play, I knew I could do it because I’ve done it so many times before.”
Rubio closed out the game by getting freshman left fielder Brooke DeSmet to ground into a fielder’s choice, making the 3-2 win official.
Rubio pitched her 14th complete game of the season and picked up her 13th win, allowing two hits, one earned run and striking out seven batters.
“Today was a great team win,” Rubio said. “We played more as one unit today. After the first inning, we settled in and were able to play much better than we have been lately.”
With the two losses on Saturday, the Leopards were eliminated from playoff contention. They will close out their season by traveling to El Camino Real Park in Orange on Friday to begin a three-game series against the Chapman Panthers at 3 p.m. The two teams will meet again on Saturday for ULV’s senior day and a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m. at Campus West.
Sydney Ferris can be reached at email@example.com.