Assistant Sports Editor
The softball team played a doubleheader Friday afternoon at Wheeler Park and earned a split against Pomona-Pitzer.
Returning to home field for its second home series of the season, the Leopards clinched Game 1 in five innings, 9-1.
“Before the game, I tell the team four things,” head coach Julie Smith said. “Play with pride; do your job, which they did; stay positive for each other; and focus on getting that win.”
La Verne scored early in the game in the first inning as junior shortstop Danielle Vela drove in junior shortstop Rebecca Ireland with a single to take a 1-0 lead over the Sagehens.
La Verne then added to the score when senior first baseman Raven Freret drove in two with a double to left field.
With an error made by senior pitcher Caitlyn Hynes, Freret was also able to score.
Freret added three more, with La Verne up, 4-0 early in the second inning.
Freret finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
“I felt that I was hitting the ball pretty well and drove through to get that win,” Freret said. “My role in the lineup is to score and I’m just doing my job.”
Freret is currently hitting .469 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and ties for the lead with five doubles.
“Raven, she always does her job,” Smith said. “Locks in the game, knows what to do and is confident every time, no doubt about that.”
Freshman pitcher Hayley Jaquess gave up a single to sophomore second baseman Aryana Yee of Pomona-Pitzer, allowing junior outfielder Ashley Morello to score on an error at first.
“The umpire strike zone wasn’t consistent to me so I had a really hard time deciding,” Jaquess said. “But my job is to work around it and although I can’t change their call, I just need to adjust sooner and improve my decisions.”
The Leopards led the Sagehens, 7-1 coming into the fifth inning and Freret hit a double to right center field, allowing sophomore first baseman Katherine Kibbe and junior outfielder Katie Cunningham to score.
This gave La Verne an eight-run lead and invoked the run rule, giving the Leopards the victory.
“We actively played as a team and got the job done, which I’m very proud of that we did,” Ireland said. “We’re still improving as a team but we all know what we have to do in order to move forward together.”
Jaquess allowed just one unearned run on two hits for the Sagehens. She pitched all five winnings in the win.
“The game was good, we came out strong and stayed strong throughout it,” Jaquess said. “I felt good as well, but there were mistakes that needed quick adjustments.”
The Leopards fell short in the second game, losing 7-4 on a three-run seventh inning by the Sagehens.
Senior catcher Melisa Sponholz brought sophomore outfielder Mackenzie Dutton home with a single, putting La Verne on the board but the Sagehens answered back.
Kibbe tied it at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning when she plated Ireland and senior outfielder Laura Olsen with a bases loaded double. But La Verne could not keep the momentum going.
“Our defense is solid, solid, solid.” Smith said. “We made adjustments throughout the innings and tinkered a little bit.”
Pomona-Pitzer’s Morello and Yee scored on mistakes made by La Verne.
The gave the Sagehens a 7-4 lead over the Leopards in the seventh, clinching the victory.
“I look forward to continuing this positive momentum that we have going here,” Smith said. “The team loves each other and shares a bond that they bring to each game and it’s just awesome.”
La Verne also took both games in its doubleheader against Occidental Saturday at Wheeler Park, 8-0 in five innings and 3-2 in eight.
Freret and Dutton both had an RBI single in the fourth inning of the first game, giving La Verne the 8-0 lead, invoking the run rule.
In game two of the series, the Tigers were able to tie the game in the seventh inning, which forced the game into extra innings.
Occidental out-hit La Verne, 10-8, but with a walk-off sacrifice by Cunningham, La Verne came out with the victory.
The Leopards are now 10-14 on the season and 6-8 in SCIAC play.
The Leopards go back in action with a doubleheader at noon Saturday at Wheeler Park, hosting Cal Lutheran.
Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.