The University of Redlands softball team squared off against non-conference foe Westminster College (MO) on Tuesday afternoon at the Field of Dreams. The Bulldogs rallied back to earn a 4-3 win with a walk-off hit in the eighth inning of the opener before grabbing a 4-1 victory in the nightcap for the team's first sweep of the season.
During the opener, junior pitcher Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) entered the circle for the Maroon and Gray and immediately retired the side in order to set the tone for a great outing. She allowed no hits over the first three innings.
However, the Blue Jays responded in the top of the fourth by pushing two runs across on four hits.
After Westminster stretched its lead to three through the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs answered back in the bottom of the frame with a two-out rally. With junior catcher Nova Siegel (Fairfield, CA) on second, first-year centerfielder Samantha Rivas (Whittier, CA) blasted a double to the fence in right field, allowing the run to score. Due to a costly Blue Jay error on the ensuing at-bat, Rivas touched home to make it 2-3. But Redlands was not done yet, as sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) ripped a double to nearly the same place as Rivas' hit, which allowed senior first baseman Olivia Vierra (Burlingame, CA) to cross home plate and tie up the score.
Stellar defense and solid pitching kept both teams off the board through seven innings, which sent the game into the eighth. Following Sanchez's second double of the game, senior Shannon Skrzynski stepped up as a pinch hitter and launched a double down the left-field line for the game-winning, walk-off hit that plated Sanchez.
Mifsud went the distance for the win in eight innings with four strikeouts.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum from the win into the second game and immediately put up a run on Rivas' team-leading fifth dinger of the season.
Redlands stretched it to 4-0 through the second stanza by capitalizing on two Blue Jay errors on a series of squeeze plays. After Sanchez walked to lead off the inning, Skrzynski bunted a single and beat out the throw, which opened the door for Sanchez to cruise to third. After one out and runners on second and third, the Maroon and Gray went on to score twice on two errors and a sacrifice bunt.
Although Westminster pulled one back in the top of the third, the Bulldogs counted on their flawless defense to support first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) in the circle. The middle infield of senior shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) and junior second baseman Jordyn Smith (Highland, CA) made play after play to frustrate the Blue Jay hitters.
In the top of the seventh, Hernandez faced the tying run with two runners on but snagged the win on quality plays by her defense. First, senior third baseman Lali Garza (Granite Bay, CA) perfectly played a bunt and threw out the lead runner at third, with Baumgarten covering her base. Finally, the Bulldogs rolled up a double play on a lineout to third that caught the runner at first off the bag.
Hernandez earned the complete-game win by dispersing six hits and fanning five batters.
Redlands (8-12) hosts Hamline University (MN) on Friday, March 23, at 2 p.m. for a non-conference doubleheader at the Field of Dreams.