Bulldog Softball Splits SCIAC Doubleheader with Occidental

Mika Imoto throws a pitch
Photo credit: Breanna O'Dea

The University of Redlands softball team traveled to Occidental College on Saturday for the opening Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader of the season.  The Bulldogs eked out a hard-fought 2-0 win in the opening game before suffering a 3-4 loss in 10 innings in the nightcap.

With one out, senior shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) knocked a double in the top of the first inning and advanced to third on a passed ball.  However, the Tiger pitcher settled down to retire the next two batters and keep Redlands off the board.

With junior pitcher Mika Imoto (Vista, CA) in the circle, Redlands put up zeroes in an effective showing to start the game.

The top of the second resulted in the Maroon and Gray's first run of the day, thanks in part to heads-up base-running by junior Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA).  After Imoto reached on a walk, Rodriguez stepped in as a pinch runner and immediately stole second.  She moved to third on another stolen base and finally touched home when sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) put the ball in play for the defense to cough up an error and the RBI.

Although Imoto walked three in the bottom of the frame, her defense backed her up with a nice out at home on a fielder's choice before Baumgarten snagged a lineout to end the inning.

Redlands tacked on another run in the top of the third when senior designated player Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) stole second and made her way home on back-to-back errors by the Tigers.

With a 2-0 lead, Imoto found her stride and gave up only one hit through five innings of work.

Redlands looked to score more in the top of the sixth when Skrzynski doubled to lead off the top of the inning. In addition, Imoto connected on a single but neither runner moved past second base, as Occidental converted two successful fielder's choice plays.

Although the Tigers put runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, Imoto forced a pair of routine defensive plays by the infield, which allowed the 2-0 lead to hold up for the Bulldogs' first win of the season.

Imoto threw a five-hit, complete game for the victory.

During the second contest, first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) stepped into the circle for the Bulldogs.  In the bottom of the first, the Tigers managed to load the bases but a fly-out to first-year center fielder Samantha Rivas (Whittier, CA) allowed the Bulldogs to escape the inning unscathed.

Redlands scored in the top of the second off an unsuccessful fielder's choice that resulted from senior third baseman Lali Garza's (Granite Bay, CA) leadoff single.  Rodriguez pinch ran for her and stole second and third to set up the score.  With her speedy and crafty base running, she beat out the throw at home for the Bulldogs' 1-0 advantage.

Hernandez was dealing from the circle and retired the side in three consecutive innings to hold Oxy scoreless.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-0 with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. The first came off senior first baseman Olivia Vierra's (Burlingame, CA) RBI-double that plated Skrzynski before Rivas sent junior right fielder Jennifer Ng (Pleasanton, CA) home on a single to center field. 

With two innings to go, Redlands appeared to be on cruise control for the win.  However, the Tigers had other plans and managed to score three in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. 

After two scoreless frames, the game required the tiebreaker to settle this tight contest.  Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not move the placed runner from second, while Oxy managed to push the winning run across on an infield single.

Hernandez went the distance for 9.2 innings, with only seven hits and three runs allowed.  She struck out six in a solid showing.

Redlands (1-5, 1-1 SCIAC) faces a quick turnaround with a doubleheader against Linfield College on Sunday, February 18.  First pitch is slated for 12 noon at the Field of Dreams.