Associate Sports Editor
The softball team’s long and difficult Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season came to an end this weekend for the Leopards, going 1-2 with losses to Redlands and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and a win over Whittier.
La Verne got off to quick starts in each game, but only managed to hold on for one win in three tries.
“We didn’t get timely hits,” junior catcher Daryn Schiveley said. “We had runners in scoring position but we didn’t get them in.”
In game one, the Leopards jumped out to an early lead on a RBI by junior left fielder Dee Dee Burns.
The Bulldogs quickly retaliated with three runs of their own to take a 3-1 lead.
In the third, La Verne knotted the game up with runs by senior center fielder Mandy Brenner and senior shortstop Ashley Paul.
Again, Redlands answered in the bottom of the inning with their final two runs of the game.
In the fifth, Burns struck once more to send Paul home, but the Leopards could not complete the comeback, falling 5-4.
After the loss, the Leopards were in a win or go home position for the rest of the tournament.
“In a tournament like this, there is no room for mistakes,” head coach Julie Smith said. “They had less mistakes than we did.”
Shortly after the opener, the Leopards earned a 5-4 victory over Whittier and claimed a spot in the final day of the tournament.
La Verne once again started off hot, scoring two runs in the top of the first and never looking back.
The SCIAC’s second ranked defense did not allow the Poets to threaten until late in the game.
In the fifth, the lead swelled to 4-0 on a RBI by junior second baseman Tara Allis.
Paul managed to score off of an error by Whittier left fielder Heather Dady.
In the bottom of the inning, the Poets started their comeback, scoring three runs before senior pitcher Delaney Baylor came in for freshman Laura Olson.
Baylor ended the two-out rally by striking out the final batter of the inning.
The Leopards would add a cushion run in the top of the seventh that came in handy as Whittier made a final push, scoring one run to challenge La Verne until the end.
“We’re right on track, but we coasted a few innings,” Smith said.
“We learn from our mistakes, we don’t compound them, we process them and fix them.”
In the Saturday morning semifinal, the Leopards cheered to “score first” and did just that, going up 1-0 off the bat of Burns to send home Paul.
La Verne took a stranglehold of the Athenas in the bottom of the fourth, adding two more runs to the scoreboard after a RBI single by freshman third baseman Breanna English to keep a 3-1 lead.
CMS chipped away in the sixth, scoring one run and holding the Leopards to none.
With only three outs left, CMS pulled through with their backs against the wall, scoring two runs off the bat of the reigning SCIAC Player of the Year, Harmony Palmer, to secure a 4-3 lead that would hold through the end of the game.
“We gave it our all, we were getting good hits right to people, we couldn’t find the holes,” Burns said.
“We didn’t take care of the ball. CMS does a good job of throwing their bats out there and getting hits,” Smith said.
“Unfortunately we gave them more than they gave us. Against teams like CMS, Redlands, or even Whittier, you have to play this game flawless,” she said.
“We had a hard time locking it up and staying strong,” Brenner said.
The season is not quite over yet for the Leopards, as they still have a chance to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA Regional Tournament. The team will most likely find out if they are selected early next week, but are continuing to practice to stay ready if they are selected for the tournament.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at email@example.com.