The University of Redlands softball team hosted the Leopards of the University of La Verne on Saturday for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader. Prior to the start of the game, the home team honored its six sensational senior Bulldogs who competed in their final series on the Field of Dreams this afternoon. The seniors included right fielder Shandell Curtis (Upland, CA), first baseman Olivia Vierra (Burlingame, CA), catcher Lali Garza (Granite Bay, CA), shortstop Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA), second baseman Elise Ramirez (Redlands, CA), and shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA).
Game one was decided by one swing of the bat, as a two-run home run for the Leopards in the top of the second provided the difference in a 2-1 final. Game two was another hard-fought battle by both teams. La Verne homered in the second to take the 1-0 lead as its starting pitcher took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. But the Bulldogs fought back and scratched out a run in the sixth that forced extra innings. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Leopards mounted a three-run rally in the ninth inning to prevail by a final of 4-1.
Redlands sent junior pitcher Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) to the circle for her final start of the campaign. Mifsud delivered a complete game while only allowing two runs on seven hits and one free pass. Although Mifsud was handed a loss in the box score, she, along with some stellar defensive plays, kept the Bulldogs in it the entire game. In the top of the first with a runner on, a La Verne hitter put a double into left field, but the keen reaction of sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) to play the ball off of the wall and fire it quickly to third base allowed junior third baseman Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA) to apply an outstanding diving tag on the runner trying to advance. The play wound up putting a stop to the would-be Leopard rally in the first.
Just one inning later, S. Curtis made a fabulous running catch into the right-center-field gap. At full speed, S. Curtis extended and snagged the would-be double and yet again kept the Leopards' offense at bay.
In the bottom half of the second, the Bulldogs squeaked out a run on an RBI-fielder's-choice by junior designated player Jennifer Ng (Pleasanton, CA). Unfortunately, that would be all the runs the Bulldogs could muster in game one, as they eventually fell by a 1-2 final.
In game two, first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) took the ball for the Maroon and Gray. Hernandez was terrific in her complete-game effort, which ended up being a nine-frame outing. Her final line may show a loss, but her performance allowed only one run through eight innings and kept the Bulldogs in the game until the very end. She finished the day with six strikeouts.
The Bulldogs muscled some offense in the sixth. After an out, Rodriguez singled to left field, subsequently stole second, and was sent to third on a sacrifice bunt. Vierra stepped into the box and roped a two-out, base hit to right field to tie the game, 1-1, through six frames.
Unfortunately for the home team, the Leopards added three runs on four hits in the ninth inning to put the Bulldogs in a 1-4 hole that eventually became the final score. Although the day did not end the way the Bulldogs had dreamed, six fantastic young women were recognized and celebrated as Bulldogs For Life.
The 2018 Redlands Bulldog softball season comes to an end with an overall record of 17-21 and a 12-16 mark in SCIAC.