Tension builds as senior outfielder Dee Dee Burns steps to the plate with a full count. She hits the ball up the middle in the bottom of the eighth, allowing senior catcher Daryn Schiveley to score, clinching the Leopards a 5-4 win over the Lake Superior State Lakers on Wednesday at Wheeler Park.
The Leopards began heating up in the fifth inning and never looked back after that.
“I felt that I was letting my team down so I felt I needed to step up in the last inning,” Schiveley said.
The Leopards defended their home against the traveling Michigan players.
The Leopards were down by one until the fifth inning, when sophomore first baseman Raven Freret hit a single and advanced to third by an error, giving sophomore infielder Tara Allis, junior outfielder Amanda Hasting and freshman infielder Danielle Vela the opportunity to score.
The fifth inning ended with the Leopards leading by two.
During the sixth inning the Leopards defense fell short allowing the Lakers to score two runs.
Burns stuck out swinging at the bottom of the sixth, bringing the game to a tie going into the seventh inning.
With the seventh inning ending in a tie an extra inning was added.
At the bottom of the eighth inning Schiveley singled up the middle, then advanced to third after a single from freshman pitcher Breeanna De La Rosa.
With the game ending single up the middle by Burns, Schiveley ran home, ending the game with a bittersweet win.
“We weren’t executing very well as far as finishing,” head coach Julie Smith said. “We’re a really good hitting team we just weren’t doing it at the right times.”
The Leopards young pitching rotation drove the game.
“We challenged our pitchers this game, we’re like you’re going in one, you’re going in two,” Smith said. “They each had a specific plan and they executed it very well.”
Sophomore Laura Olson pitched three innings, junior Carly Asher pitched two innings, De La Rosa pitched one inning and freshman Rebecca Ho pitched two innings. Olson received the win.
“Our pitchers did really well; they kept us in the game for the most part,” Allis said.
The confidence of the Leopards was key to an impressive win against a Division II team that traveled to La Verne all the way from Michigan.
“It really comes down to us players playing as a team and for each other,” Schiveley said.
Confidence will continue to be key, as the Leopards get ready to continue their hot streak.
“We feel pretty confident going in, ” Allis said. “Our sticks have been there today, we were just a little off but we’ll work through it these next two days and we’ll be good for Saturday.”
For the three seniors on the team, they hope to motivate their younger teammates.
“I’m always looking forward to the next game,” Burns said. “I always approach a game like it’s my last.”
One thing that is apparent is that the Leopards are ready to take on any team that gets in their way of making it to the post season.
“So far we’re having a really good season,” Smith said. “We’re doing a lot of things right and one thing our girls want to do is go post-season; that’s our goal, and we’re going to stick to it.”
The Leopards improved their record to 10-2 and are currently in third place in the Souther California Intercollegiate Conference.
The Leopards currently have the highest overall winning percentage among SCIAC teams and lead all SCIAC teams in points for, with 107, 19 more than the current first place team in SCIAC, Redlands.
The Leopards will play a doubleheader against a conference foe Pomona-Pitzer, who currently rank fourth in SCIAC, at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday at Pomona-Pitzer.
Karo Chakhlasyan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.