The softball team split its doubleheader on Saturday at Wheeler Park, winning the first game 1-0 in the last inning and losing the second game 2-1 against the Occidental Tigers.
The first game started off slow as the Leopards’ sophomore pitcher Rebecca Ho and the Tigers’ senior starter Brittany Vacura struck out hitters left and right.
Ho was able to hold off the Occidental hitters for five innings.
“I have been working on my consistency and accuracy for pitching,” Ho said. “I need to make my weaker pitches stronger.”
After two Leopard singles by Danielle Vela and Melisa Sponholz and a walk to first-basemen Raven Freret, the bases for were loaded in the bottom of the sixth.
But Vacura stopped the momentum by forcing Leopard freshman Katherine Kibbe to hit a pop up that was caught by the Tigers’ catcher.
Both teams were unable to score until the last inning of the game when shortstop Vela hit a line-drive single for the Leopards, sending junior third-baseman Candice Nuñez home for the RBI.
“You always come out with an expectation to win,” Vela said. “We have a really good defense this year, but we can’t win games without runs.”
The second game started stronger for the Leopards, with an early 1-0 lead that would last for six innings. The first run came from Vela, after Freret hit a triple sending Vela home for the RBI.
La Verne’s starting pitcher Rachel Hong kept the Tigers scoreless for six innings.
“I did do better than I expected to, considering I haven’t pitched in awhile,” Hong said, “There’s always pitches I want to take back, though.”
Freshman Occidental pitcher Amber Garland gave up nine hits to the Leopards, but they were still unable to gain any runs.
Occidental scored in the top of seventh after outfielder Jacqueline Shimamoto and catcher Ashley Noone had singles resulting in two RBIs.
La Verne fought back in the bottom of the seventh when Vela hit a single, followed by another single by Hong. But it was not enough for the Leopards to score.
Head coach Julie Smith said the Leopards need to work harder on their hitting and focus. Smith also believes they need to come out harder and not play so soft.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Smith said. “We had some really great individual performances, but we just didn’t put it together.”
Smith believes the Leopards will succeed after practicing harder on hitting and strengthening their bond and teamwork.
“Offensively we need to be more disciplined,” Smith said. “Our pitching did a wonderful job, and we made some great defensive plays.”
The Leopards won their first game against Redlands on Sunday, 1-0, and lost the second game, 3-2.
La Verne has been strong on the pitching end. Hong has the second lowest ERA in the conference with a 1.24.
Now the Leopards prepare to face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the next SCIAC game March 15.
Karleigh Neff can be reached at email@example.com.