Mistakes prove costly in softball’s loss

La Verne sophomore second baseman Cassandra Zapata receives the throw from graduate student third baseman Taylor Gray to try and get Chapman junior shortstop Grace Fosselman out in a pickle during the Leopards’ game against the Panthers on Friday at Campus West. The Leopards lost, 6-2. / photo by Jack Janes
La Verne sophomore second baseman Cassandra Zapata receives the throw from graduate student third baseman Taylor Gray to try and get Chapman junior shortstop Grace Fosselman out in a pickle during the Leopards’ game against the Panthers on Friday at Campus West. The Leopards lost, 6-2. / photo by Jack Janes

Jonas Holt
Staff Writer

Six runners left on base and two errors proved costly as the Leopards lost, 6-2, in the opening game of a three-game series against the Chapman Panthers in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup at Campus West on Friday afternoon. 

“We had one bad inning but it wasn’t just one mistake, it was multiple,” head coach Tara Anaya said. “We’ve got to be able to reel it in and dial back in again.”

The game commenced with junior pitcher Kirstin Sanchez taking the mound for the Leopards. The Panthers wasted no time as junior center fielder Miranda Murphy kick-started their offense with a lead-off single up the middle. A subsequent errant throw by Sanchez allowed junior shortstop Grace Fosselman to reach base, which loaded the bases with no outs. Despite Sanchez’s efforts to contain the damage, the Panthers scored their first run as junior first baseman Jordan Westerfield’s sacrifice fly brought Murphy home, giving Chapman an early 1-0 lead. Sanchez regained her composure, inducing a ground out and a fly out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Leopards faced Panthers’ junior left-handed pitcher Jillian Kelly. 

Kelly shut the Leopards out right away with a one-two-three inning and set the tone for the Leopards’ struggles at the plate for the afternoon. 

Junior center fielder Ashley Rodriguez pops out to the shortstop in the bottom of the second inning of the Leopards’ game against the Chapman Panthers on Friday at Campus West. Rodriguez finished the day 1-for-3 at the plate in the Leopards’ 6-2 loss. / photo by Jack Janes

The Panthers continued to apply pressure in the top of the second inning, with junior right fielder Samantha Kennedy leading off with a single. Sophomore second baseman Mia Reyes followed suit with a slap into left field, putting runners on first and second with just one out. 

Despite a fly out by Murphy, Sanchez struggled to contain the Panthers’ offense, hitting Fosselman with a pitch to load the bases. A ground ball off the bat of third baseman Illiana Serna resulted in a pair of runs for the Panthers, extending their lead to 3-0. 

The Leopards’ attempt to catch Fosselman in a pickle backfired when a throw by junior shortstop Erika Garcia sailed over the head of sophomore second baseman Cassandra Zapata, allowing two more runs to score, giving Chapman a 5-0 lead. Sanchez managed to escape further damage, getting a ground out to end the top half of the inning.

“We hear a lot from our coaches on how we need to tighten up our defense and we just need to make those adjustments and be better out there,” junior center fielder Ashley Rodriguez said.

It only took Kelly four pitches to end the second inning for the Panthers.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Leopards finally found some offensive momentum. Junior designated player Sydney Diaz notched the Leopards’ first hit of the game with a single up the middle. 

A walk to junior right fielder Angelina Alderete and a subsequent double steal allowed Diaz to score, putting the Leopards on the board at 5-1. However, the inning concluded with a pop out, leaving the Leopards trailing by four.

“I just think we need to capitalize on the little things and we’ll be fine,” Sanchez said.

The Panthers added insurance to their lead in the top of the fifth inning thanks to a solo home run to deep left center field by junior designated player Mo Lynch, giving Chapman a 6-1 lead.

Junior pitcher Kirstin Sanchez winds up to fire a fastball in the first inning of the Leopards’ game against the Chapman Panthers Friday at Campus West. Sanchez pitched all seven innings and gave up four earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and a walk in the Leopards’ 6-2 loss. / photo by Jack Janes

In the bottom of the sixth inning, graduate student third baseman Taylor Gray kick-started a promising offensive sequence with the team’s fourth hit of the game. With Gray on first and only one out, Zapata followed suit with a line drive into right field, putting runners on first and second. Rodriguez’s strikeout brought junior catcher Alyssa Campbell to the plate with two outs. 

“We can’t get down on ourselves when we’re down, we have to pick each other up, be loud and have fun in the tough moments” Gray said.

Campbell delivered a single into left field on the first pitch, loading the bases for freshman left fielder Aleiah Kupihea. Kupihea’s single into center brought Gray home, narrowing the Panthers’ lead to 6-2. 

However, a ground out by Garcia ended the inning with the bases loaded.

The Leopards continued to struggle in the final innings, thus giving the Chapman Panthers a hard earned 6-2 victory. 

“We’ve got to be able to attack early when it’s there and make the adjustments when needed,” Anaya said.

Despite the loss in the opening game of the series against Chapman, the Leopards bounced back and won the first game of the doubleheader by a score of 2-1 on Saturday but lost the second game 7-6 in heartbreaking walk-off fashion. The Leopards are now 12-22 overall on the season and 6-12 in SCIAC play. 

Their final series of the season is against the Whittier Poets beginning at 3 p.m. Friday Campus West and a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday at Whittier.

Jonas Holt can be reached at jonas.holt@laverne.edu.

Jonas Holt is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He is a staff writer and staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

Jack Janes, a senior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine. He is also a staff photographer for both publications. He previously served as a Campus Times staff writer.

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