The Leopards and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas split a doubleheader on Saturday that had important postseason implications for both teams.
For the Athenas, the loss put them into a two-way tie for first place with the Redlands Bulldogs in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
In La Verne’s case the win was not only a confidence booster, but was also another win closer to securing a spot in the SCIAC tournament.
“This was really big,” junior shortstop, Ashley Paul said.
“We got swept during the last two games we played them. We really don’t like Claremont, so we had the fight in us,” Paul added.
In game one, the Leopards out hit the Athenas, but they also left 13 runners on base, and their inability to score cost them as they lost 4-1.
La Verne finished game one with a mini-rally as sophomore centerfielder Dee Dee Burns hit a home run to left field, but it was cut short when the go-ahead run grounded out to third base.
“We just weren’t being patient on certain pitches,” sophomore infielder Tara Allis said.
“We need to go back out there and execute on the bases,” she added.
In game two the Leopards’ offense was welcomed but unnecessary as freshman pitcher Brittney Flores threw four innings of hitless ball and struck out three.
The Athenas did not get their first hit until the bottom of the fifth inning, when they scored two runs, which cut La Verne’s lead to only one run.
“I was just concentrating on hitting my spots,” Flores said. “But I knew my defense would help me out of it.”
In the sixth inning both teams went scoreless, but in the top half of the seventh La Verne stepped up to the plate and put the Athenas away, scoring five runs in the inning and never looked back.
Senior outfielder Melissa Carlson and Paul led off the inning by getting on base after both being hit by pitches.
Then an infield hit by Burns scored Carlson and advanced Paul to third base.
A wild pitch by Claremont-M-S pitcher Amanda Banducci led to one more run. A walk to Allis put two women on base and brought up second baseman Lissa Ishihara.
In the previous game La Verne had plenty of opportunities to score, but did not capitalize on them. This time Ishihara made sure she brought in runs for her team, as she hit a three run home run to left field, sealing the win for the Leopards with a final score of 8-2.
“Her hit was huge,” Flores said. “It turned the momentum around.”
The La Verne crowd at Athena Field, as well as her teammates, cheered as Ishihara touched home plate.
“The win was big,” Flores added. “We really wanted to beat them.”
The Leopards will continue to finish out the season as they play a doubleheader with the Whittier Poets today at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Then to close out the SCIAC schedule La Verne will play the Occidental Tigers in a home doubleheader on Sunday starting at noon.
Results of these two games will determine the fate of postseason hopes for the softball team.
Elsie Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.