The University of Redlands softball team took to non-conference play on Sunday by facing off against the Hamline University (MN) Pipers in doubleheader action at the Softball Field of Dreams. The Bulldogs split with the Pipers by taking the first game, 14-10, and then falling just short in a game-two comeback en route to a 7-8 defeat.
In game one, the Bulldog bats were powerful and hard to retire, as they barreled 16 total hits with six going as extra-base hits.
Redlands struck first in the bottom half of the opening frame when senior left-fielder Grace Rose (Villa Park, CA) poked a single through the left side to score senior center-fielder AJ Carrasco (Whittier, CA), who led off the inning with a triple down the right-field line.
After Hamline responded in the ensuing half inning with one run, Redlands fired right back by putting up a three-spot in the bottom of the second. Carrasco remained active at the dish early by lacing a two-out RBI-double, scoring sophomore third baseman Lauren Hernandez (Littleton, CO) and sophomore first baseman Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) to expand the Bulldogs' lead to 4-1.
Hamline battled to cut the deficit down to one run in the following half inning, but the Bulldogs did not let up on the gas pedal by etching 10 runs on the board in the following two innings.
Carrasco's bat continued to simmer by lacing her second triple of the game, which plated sophomore shortstop Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) and freshman catcher Tawney Lilley (Alta Loma, CA) to highlight a four-run, bottom-of-the-third inning. Freshman designated player Hayley Romo (Port Orchard, WA) kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the fourth by squaring up a double to left-center field, which allowed senior second baseman Vicki King (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Rose to touch home. Lilley, Skrzynski, and Carrasco backed Romo's early-inning efforts with three-consecutive RBI-knocks to grab a commanding 14-7 lead.
Despite Hamline's attempt at a come back with three runs in the top of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs held on for the 14-10 victory.
Freshman starter Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) handled the majority of the pitching duties by tossing 6.2 innings and allowing just three earned runs to notch the victory.
Carrasco was scorching hot at the dish by going 4-for-5, with two triples, a double, five RBI, and four runs scored. Hernandez notched three hits in four at-bats and touched home twice, while Skrzynski marked a 2-for-4 day on the ledger with two RBI, two runs scored, and two highlight-reel diving catches on defense.
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs fell behind early due in part to poor pitching and sloppy defense, putting them in a seven-run hole leading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
However, the Maroon and Gray began to capitalize on Piper errors, which fed into offensive success in the latter half of the contest.
Redlands plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, as King lofted a deep fly ball to center field that the Hamline defense mishandled, allowing Rose and Skrzynski to score and trim the deficit to 2-7.
Carrasco remained relentless up at the dish in the bottom of the fifth, this time igniting a four-run outburst with a two-run, opposite-field dinger. King and Romo paired up for consecutive RBI-knocks as well, narrowing the margin to 6-8.
After entering into the game in the third inning, freshman reliever Mika Imoto (Vista, CA) blanked the Pipers in the sixth and seventh inning, setting the stage for a Bulldog comeback.
After Carrasco and Skrzynski led off the inning with consecutive bunt singles, the Bulldogs ended up with runners on second and third with one out. King launched a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Carrasco to score. However, the Bulldogs stranded the tying run at third base en route to a 7-8 defeat.
After another prolific performance in game two, Carrasco finished the two-game series going 8-for-9 with a double, two triples, a two-run homerun, two bunt singles, seven RBI, and four runs scored.
Skrzynski was money at the dish as well by going 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Senior starter Lauren Henson (Highland, CA) picked up the loss after chucking 2.2 innings.
The Bulldogs (12-6) take on No. 3 DePauw University (IN) on Tuesday, March 22, at home at the Softball Field of Dreams. Game times are set for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.