Associate Sports Editor
The Leopards took care of business on the field, sweeping the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens by scores of 4-3 and 10-4 on Senior Day on April 22.
Five seniors were honored before the start of game one: Kaitlin Ward, Lisa Neu, Mandy Brenner, Delaney Baylor and Ashley Paul, for their years of service at La Verne, who all started game one as well.
“I’m going to miss them. This senior class is my first real graduating senior class here,” head coach Julie Smith said. “I’m a little emotional for them today. They are a great bunch, the program and the school are lucky to have them.”
Paul, a three time First Team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player, got the Leopards on the board in game one right away, knocking home a leadoff homerun, her first of the season, over the left field fence, but La Verne would not be done there, scoring two more runs to end the first inning with a 3-0 lead.
The Leopards once again threatened in the fifth when Paul doubled with two outs left, but failed to reach home after Neu grounded out to end the inning.
The Sagehens could not make a dent in the Leopard lead until the sixth inning when first baseman Brianna Marcantoni smacked a three-run homerun over the center field fence to knot the game up at 3-3.
Baylor, who pitched a complete game, gave up three earned runs on five hits and struck out two, helped end any chance of Pomona-Pitzer taking the lead by forcing a groundout to end the inning.
“It feels good,” Baylor said, “I was confident in the team that we could do it.”
Paul would bring in the first and last runs of the game, getting a basehit with the bases loaded and no outs to send home Brenner for the walk-off win.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we can’t let down, you see what happens when we do, Smith said.
“I think we’ve let teams score too many runs when we get comfortable. It’s been something we’ve done all year long.”
To leadoff game two, Paul would complete the cycle for the day by blasting a triple to right field, which would eventually turn into a 2-0 lead for the home club after the first.
“I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to make my last games memorable,” Paul said.
The Sagehens would answer quickly in game two with senior catcher Alyssa Corley hitting a solo shot off of freshman pitcher Laura Olson in the top of the second inning to cut the lead in half.
La Verne answered in the bottom of the inning with two more runs to gain a more comfortable lead early in the game.
Holding onto a 7-2 lead in the top of sixth, Pomona-Pitzer would come knocking again, scoring three more runs on a double by junior left fielder Emily Buik to make the game interesting with only one inning remaining but could not muster any more runs before the end of the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, and with junior first baseman Amanda Hastings on first, junior second baseman Tara Allis blasted a two-run homerun over the left field fence.
Junior left fielder Dee Dee Burns immediately followed up with an individual effort, hitting a double and scoring on an error by Sagehen right fielder Caitlyn Hynes to keep the Leopards at an arm’s distance and secure the 10-4 win.
“We worked well together, we brought it back in clutch situations,” Baylor said.
“We did our jobs today. We got runners on and scored them. We were hitting the ball hard too,” Brenner said.
La Verne heads to the SCIAC tournament starting at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow against Redlands at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.