University of Redlands senior catcher Kristen Hooper (Riverside, CA) hit a walk-off homerun in Friday's opener against the Cal Lutheran University Regals, ultimately leading the No. 15 Bulldog softball team to a doubleheader split with the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foe. After winning game one in nine innings, 7-6, the Redlands offense was not clicking in a tough nightcap defeat, 1-2.
The Bulldogs began game one by committing three-consecutive errors, but senior pitcher Kaitlyn Hooper (Riverside, CA) did well to get out of the first inning while giving up just two runs.
Redlands recovered, and in the third frame, Kr. Hooper ripped an RBI double to left-centerfield, scoring junior pinch-runner Aisha Salami (Gardena, CA) on the play. Senior center-fielder Amanda Lievanos (Anaheim, CA) followed that up with an RBI double down the right-field line, scoring Hooper.
With the score tied at 2-2, the Regals tacked on four runs in the fifth frame to nab a 6-2 advantage.
The score stayed that way until the Maroon and Gray began its rally in the bottom of the seventh. After a couple of base knocks, the Bulldogs were within three, and a few batters later with two outs, Redlands had two runners on base with Lievanos at the plate. Lievanos worked the count, and when she got the pitch she was looking for, she turned on it and hit a moon-shot over the left-field wall, clearing the scoreboard in the process.
The game would go to extra innings, and while neither team scored in the eighth, the U of R would take advantage of its turn at the plate in the ninth.
With one out already recorded, Kr. Hooper stepped up to the dish for Redlands and blasted the game-winning walk-off homerun over the left-field wall, bringing everyone at the Softball "Field of Dreams" to their feet in the exciting conference triumph.
For the game, sophomore left-fielder AJ Carrasco (Whittier, CA) led the U of R in her first game back from injury with four hits, while Lievanos tallied two hits and a team-best four RBI. Kr. Hooper also notched two hits to go with two RBI and a team-leading two runs scored.
Ka. Hooper earned the win for the Bulldogs by pitching 7.2 innings, dispersing six hits, and allowing just two unearned runs.
In the nightcap, Redlands continued its momentum early with a run in the first inning. Sophomore shortstop Vicki King (Thousand Oaks, CA) notched the sacrifice fly in that frame.
The Bulldog bats went quiet though for the rest of the contest, and after the Regals (18-12, 12-8 SCIAC) scored two runs in the fifth inning, the Maroon and Gray found itself in another come-from-behind situation.
Despite getting runners into scoring position in each of the final two innings, the home squad could not push across the tying run, resulting in the tough SCIAC loss.
Lievanos and Kr. Hooper both registered a team-best two hits in the game-two defeat.
Redlands (24-8, 20-2 SCIAC) returns to action tomorrow when it travels to Chapman University (19-14, 12-9 SCIAC) for another SCIAC doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 12 noon.