The University of Redlands softball team took to the road for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader against the Whittier College Poets on Friday. The Bulldogs knocked 26 hits and scored 19 runs in the two games while completing the comeback in the opener to steal the 11-8 victory.
After the Poets put up a crooked number in the bottom of the first, Redlands had plenty of work to do to rally back from a four-run deficit.
In the top of the third, the Bulldogs connected on four hits for three runs to make it a 3-4 ball game. With runners in scoring position, junior catcher Nova Siegel (Fairfield, CA) put Redlands on the board with a sacrifice fly that plated senior third baseman Lali Garza (Granite Bay, CA). Senior second baseman Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) stepped up with a two-run homer over the left-field fence to cap off the solid frame.
However, Whittier stretched its lead to 5-3 with a single run in the bottom of the inning.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs answered the call and tied it up in the top of the fourth with two hits and a Poet miscue. Garza's single up the middle sent sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) home before Siegel blasted an RBI-double, which allowed Garza to score as well.
First-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) cruised through the fourth and the fifth, allowing just one hit and forcing three infield outs in the process.
However, Whittier responded in the bottom of the sixth with a three-spot on three hits and two errors.
Now trailing 5-8, Redlands entered the seventh while facing an uphill climb. With one out, senior shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) reached on an error that scored senior first baseman Olivia Vierra (Burlingame, CA), who led off the inning with a double. With two outs, the Bulldogs rallied to load the bases on a Sanchez single, Garza's free pass, and a fielder's choice. After a Poet pitching change, the Maroon and Gray was unfazed, as junior right fielder Jennifer Ng (Pleasanton, CA) uncorked a single up the middle for two RBI. Junior third baseman Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA) kept the two-out rally alive with a single to juice the bases again. With confidence and skill, Skrzynski rocketed a bases-clearing double to right center for the eventual game-winning hit.
Equipped with an 11-8 lead, Hernandez quickly retired the side in order to eliminate Whittier's final opportunity. She gained the win with five effective innings and four strikeouts.
Skrzynski finished the game with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate, five RBI, and one run scored.
During the second contest, the tables were turned, as Redlands gained an early lead before Whittier bounced back to score three in the bottom of the sixth and hand the Bulldogs an 8-12 loss.
With a runner on second, Vierra knocked a single that forced an error by the Poet defense, which allowed Skrzynski to touch home.
However, Whittier answered with seven runs over the next two innings to force Redlands into catch-up mode once again.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs made it a one-run game at 6-7 with a five-spot in the top of the third by taking advantage of a Poet error and blasting three hits. With two outs and the bases loaded, Baumgarten sent the ball over the right-center fence for a grand slam.
The teams traded two runs each over the next inning and a half, leaving Redlands in a slight 8-9 hole. For the Bulldogs, Vierra connected on a two-RBI double with two outs in the top of the fourth.
But the Poets kept pounding and pushed three across in the bottom of the sixth on two hits.
After senior Shandell Curtis (Upland, CA) provided a single down the right-field line early in the seventh, Redlands managed to load the bases on back-to-back walks. However, the rally ended there and left the Bulldogs on the losing end of game two.
Redlands (14-20, 9-13 SCIAC) returns home to the Softball Field of Dreams on Saturday, April 14, for a 12 noon doubleheader against the Cal Lutheran University Regals.