No. 24 U of R Softball Sweeps La Verne to Win 10th Straight

AJ Carrasco hit her first career homerun on Saturday as the Bulldogs swept La Verne at the Softball "Field of Dreams".  (Photo Credit: Alicia Carrasco)
AJ Carrasco hit her first career homerun on Saturday as the Bulldogs swept La Verne at the Softball "Field of Dreams". (Photo Credit: Alicia Carrasco)

The 24th-ranked University of Redlands softball team used solid defense and timely hitting on Saturday afternoon at the Softball "Field of Dreams" to sweep the University of La Verne in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader.  While winning their 10th-consecutive contest on the day, the Bulldogs earned the triumph in game one, 7-5, and in the nightcap, 7-4.

In the opener, the Bulldogs jumped on top early, nabbing a two-run lead after the first frame.  Sophomore shortstop Vicki King (Thousand Oaks, CA) and sophomore left-fielder AJ Carrasco (Whittier, CA) both registered RBI in the inning for Redlands, and the momentum did not stop there.

In the second frame, senior catcher Kristen Hooper (Riverside, CA) led off with a long double to center field and eventually came around to score on a mistake by the Leopards later in the inning.  Senior center-fielder Amanda Lievanos (Anaheim, CA) also came up with a big-time play, notching an RBI single to right field to score senior second baseman Amanda Clark (Riverside, CA).  By the time the inning was over, Redlands led 5-0.

The Leopards did pull one back in the third and then scored three more in the fifth, but the Maroon and Gray tallied one in the bottom half of the fifth to extend the advantage to 6-4. 

La Verne (3-11, 3-7 SCIAC) tacked on one more in the sixth frame, but Redlands immediately responded with a run of its own to maintain its two-run lead.

Senior pitcher Kaitlyn Hooper (Riverside, CA) then finished what she started in the seventh inning, closing out a complete-game performance and securing the important triumph for the U of R.  On the game, she scattered 11 hits while allowing five runs.

At the dish in game one, Lievanos led the way with three hits, one RBI, and one run scored.

The nightcap cruised through the first three innings, with the U of R not taking the lead until the bottom half of the third when Carrasco ripped an RBI single to center field, scoring Lievanos.

The Bulldog bats then erupted in the fourth inning with four runs.  Clark led off for Redlands with a homerun to left field, making it her second long ball in her career and first since her rookie campaign.  After the Maroon and Gray scored once more, Carrasco came up to the plate with one runner on base and blasted a dinger over the right-field fence for her first-career homerun.

With the score at 5-0, the Bulldogs surrendered four runs in the top of the fifth, but answered with a pair of insurance runs in the bottom half of the frame to make it a 7-5 advantage in favor of the home squad.

After some solid work by sophomore pitcher Lauren Henson (Highland, CA), Ka. Hooper came on to close the game out for Redlands in the final two innings, earning the save in the process.  Henson received the win after going four innings and allowing just one run, while Ka. Hooper surrendered just two hits and no runs in her two innings of work.

Carrasco finished the contest with a 3-for-4 performance at the dish and a team-best four RBI, while King went 3-for-4 as well, tallying two RBI in game two.

After the doubleheader sweep, AJ Carrasco talked about the team's 10-game winning streak and her first-career homerun in a post-game interview.

Redlands (14-6, 12-0 SCIAC) returns to action on Tuesday, March 25, when it hosts Willamette University (OR) in a non-conference doubleheader.