The No. 23 University of Redlands softball team continued to solidify its place at the top of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings with a doubleheader sweep of the visiting Panthers of Chapman University on Saturday. The Bulldogs put together an exciting finish to the opener, winning it by a score of 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, before taking care of business in the night cap for a 10-1 victory in five innings.
During the first game, the Panthers initiated the scoring in the top of the second inning. But the Maroon and Gray quickly answered with senior catcher Kristen Hooper's (Riverside, CA) sacrifice fly to center-field to plate sophomore left-fielder AJ Carrasco (Whittier, CA).
In the bottom of the fourth, senior center-fielder Amanda Lievanos (Anaheim, CA) led off the frame by blasting a home run over the middle of the field, resulting in the Bulldogs' 2-1 advantage.
However, Chapman mustered the tying run once again, stringing together a pair of hits up the middle to bring home a runner in the fifth.
With both teams stepping up to shut down the opposing at-bats through the final two-and-a-half frames, the game headed into extra innings. During the top of the eighth, the Panthers mustered two runners on, but the Bulldog defense provided great support for senior pitcher Kaitlyn Hooper's (Riverside, CA) admirable effort in the circle.
In the bottom half of the stanza, junior first baseman Nikoli Sharp (Lincoln, CA) gave her team a base-runner after being walked. With one out, Lievanos connected on a long single to right center, moving freshman pinch-runner Marissa Romero (Manteca, CA) to third base. Sophomore shortstop Vicki King (Thousand Oaks, CA) stepped up to the plate, knocking the ball into the short gap on the left side to score Romero for the game-winning run.
While earning her seventh win of the season, Kaitlyn Hooper went the distance for the Maroon and Gray, pitching all eight innings while fanning two and scattering eight hits.
Lievanos and Carrasco were the only multi-hit performers for Redlands as they notched two apiece.
The momentum stayed with the Bulldogs in the nightcap, as the team uncorked four runs in the first inning for the early lead. By the end of three, the Maroon and Gray owned a 10-0 advantage.
The big hit of the game came off of Carrasco's bat, when she rocketed a two-out, bases-clearing triple to left field in the bottom of the second. Lievanos stepped up in similar fashion, when she launched a double to score three in the third inning.
Sophomore pitcher Lauren Henson (Highland, CA) threw three innings of shutout ball to nab the win, while freshman pitcher Courtney Ludlow (Petaluma, CA) preserved the win with her two innings of work for the Bulldogs.
Offensively, sophomore designated player Grace Rose (Villa Park, CA) and senior second baseman Amanda Clark (Riverside, CA) connected on two hits each, while Lievanos and Carrasco recorded three and four RBI, respectively.
Chapman's (4-10, 3-7 SCIAC) Karina Muniz provided the Panthers' only run of the second game when she fired off a solo shot in the top of the fifth inning.
Redlands (10-6, 8-0 SCIAC) heads to Occidental College on Friday, March 14, for a 2 p.m. doubleheader against the Tigers.