The University of Redlands softball team competed on the road for the first time this season and earned a doubleheader split against the University of La Verne on Saturday. After the Bulldogs' late-game rally fell short in the opener, they bounced back with a hard-fought 4-2 result in the evening game to hand the Leopards their first conference loss of the young season.
Although La Verne earned a one-run lead in the bottom of the first, the Bulldogs evened the score in the top of the third. First-year left-fielder Hayley DiMase (Eastvale, CA) stayed hot at the plate by following her first-inning double with a triple to center field. She touched home off of senior catcher Nova Siegel's (Fairfield, CA) deep single for the game-tying run.
With junior pitcher Nicole Stanzione (San Marcos, CA) in the circle, the Leopards struggled to create any offense, as Stanzione limited them to only one hit in each of the first three innings. In addition, her defense backed her beautifully, as highlighted by a 6-3 double-play early in the third frame.
After La Verne earned a 2-1 lead through four, the Bulldogs struck again in the sixth with solid play both at the plate and on the base-paths. With two runners on, senior shortstop Jordyn Smith (Highland, CA) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Sophomore Ryanna Curtis (Upland, CA) entered as a pinch-hitter and uncorked a single through the left side that plated sophomore centerfielder Sam Rivas (Whittier, CA) and senior pinch-runner Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA) for the go-ahead runs.
However, errors plagued the Bulldogs in the bottom of the sixth, which led to a four-run inning and a 6-3 lead for the Leopards.
The Maroon and Gray nearly mounted a comeback by loading the bases in the top of the seventh with only one out. Rivas then earned a hit-by-pitch, which moved everyone around, including Siegel to home. However, back-to-back outs sent Redlands off the field with a 4-6 loss.
During the second game, Redlands immediately scored two runs in the top of the first off just one hit. With one out, Siegel singled to left field and then made her way to third on a walk and a hit-by-pitch. She eventually came home on Rivas' free pass. With the bases still loaded, Curtis took a hit-by-pitch in the subsequent at-bat to push across another run for the Bulldogs' early 2-0 lead.
But La Verne immediately answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to make it 2-2.
In the top of the second, Redlands went back in front when Rodriguez maximized her speed with an infield single, two stolen bases, and a run on Siegel's infield RBI.
Over the next six innings, the Bulldogs kept La Verne off the board with flawless defense and effective pitching. After senior pitcher Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) threw three solid frames as the starter, Stanzione stepped in to continue the quality showing from the circle.
In the top of the seventh, the Maroon and Gray tallied an insurance run off of Rivas' single through the left side, which plated first-year pinch-runner Rani Lauwers (Mountain View, CA) from first base.
After giving up a leadoff single to start the bottom of the inning, Stanzione closed the door on the Leopards by forcing routine outs for her defense.
Rodriguez went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Smith tallied two hits.
Redlands (4-4, 2-2 SCIAC) hosts Chapman University in a SCIAC doubleheader on Friday, March 1. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at the Field of Dreams.