The University of Redlands softball team took to the Field of Dreams on Friday morning with hopes of completing the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader against the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges prior to the forecasted rain. Although the Bulldogs showed great heart with four runs in the fifth inning of the opener, it was not enough in the 4-11 decision. This late-game offensive momentum carried over into the second contest, which allowed the home team to earn a 4-3 victory over Pomona-Pitzer for a twin-bill split.
In the first game, the Maroon and Gray quickly sat down three of the first four Sagehens with solid defense. Junior pitcher Mika Imoto (Vista, CA) forced a pair of routine infield plays to bookend junior catcher Nova Siegel's (Fairfield, CA) throw-down on the would-be base-stealer in an efficient first inning.
However, the Sagehens scored nine runs over the next four innings to put Redlands in a significant hole.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs dug deep to knock four hits for four runs to nearly cut the deficit in half. After sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) led off the frame with a single up the middle, senior designated player Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) moved her over on a walk with one out. Senior shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) blasted a double down the right-field line to push Sanchez across. Senior first baseman Olivia Vierra (Burlingame, CA) kept things going with a single to the same part of the field, which plated Skrzynski. Two batters later, senior right fielder Shandell Curtis (Upland, CA) executed a two-out single up the middle for two runs. An error and a pop-up later, the Bulldogs' late-game rally came to an end.
Nonetheless, Pomona-Pitzer tacked on two more runs to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.
During the second contest, Redlands sent first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) into the circle for the start. The Bulldogs gave her plenty of support in the bottom of the first inning, as first-year center fielder Samantha Rivas (Whittier, CA) launched her fourth home run of the season as the leadoff hitter. After Baumgarten and Skrzynski made their way to second and third, respectively, Curtis stayed hot at the plate with a two-RBI double to left field. With Curtis now on third after the Sagehens' throw to home, Sanchez supplied a sacrifice fly for the Bulldogs' 4-0 advantage.
Although the Sagehens scored one run in each the second and the fourth innings, Redlands kept a clean sheet on defense with no errors, while Hernandez threw quality innings. In the top of the second, she counted on her infield to make the play at third on a fielder's choice. She also forced three-consecutive lineouts in the third inning, with Vierra, junior second baseman Jordyn Smith (Highland, CA), and Baumgarten making impressive snags. Finally, in the top of the fifth, Hernandez contributed to her own cause by tossing the front end of a double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
After first-year third baseman Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA) made a leaping grab at third for the first out, Pomona-Pitzer answered with a dinger to make it a one-run game in the top of the seventh. However, the Bulldog defense stayed poised for the win by executing a fielder's choice at second and grabbing a short fly-out in left field.
While pitching all seven innings, Hernandez dispersed nine hits and gave up three runs in her second win of the season.
Overall, Curtis went 3-for-6 for four RBI and one run scored. Baumgarten finished the day with a 4-for-6 effort that included two doubles, two runs scored, and one RBI.
Redlands (4-8, 3-3 SCIAC) heads to Cal Lutheran University on Saturday, March 3, for a SCIAC doubleheader against the Regals at 12 noon.