Author: Ryan Graff
This past weekend, the softball team (16-18 overall, 6-16 conference) faced tough competition in a four game home stand, hosting doubleheaders against Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer on Apr.16 and 17, respectively. Coming off a six game losing streak, the Tigers worked hard to add more wins to their record. They were shut out twice against Redlands by scores of 7-0 and 4-0, pushing the streak to eight straight losses. However, they finally snapped the streak with a hard fought 3-1 victory against Pomona-Pitzer. They would go on to split the series, capping off the weekend with a 1-3 record.
Pitcher Brittany Vacura (sophomore) (10-10) started the first game against 18-ranked Redlands in the circle. Although she kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard through three innings of play, things began to turn south in the top of the fourth. Vacura would be pulled from the game after surrendering four runs on seven hits through 4.1 innings of work. She also recorded four strikeouts in what was her tenth loss of the season.
Amber Garland (first-year) (6-8) relieved Vacura but did not fare much better against the Bulldog bats. Through 2.2 innings, Garland gave up three runs on three hits and struck out one, as the Tigers could not hold off Redlands.
Lacking offense was the theme of the Tigers’ game against the Bulldogs. Center fielder Jacqueline Shimamoto (first-year) hit a pair of singles in game one of the doubleheader, which were the only two hits of the contest for the Tigers. Unfortunately, she was stranded on the base paths on both occasions as the Tigers fell 7-0.
Garland earned the start in game two versus Redlands. She pitched a complete game, giving up four runs on twelve hits and picking up her seventh loss of the campaign. Once again, the Tiger pitching staff had no run support as their offense posted trifling numbers. First baseman Patricia Phillimeano (sophomore) had the lone hit for the Tigers, a double in the final inning of the game. The Tigers only had two other base runners, both of whom were walked, and struck out a formidable 10 times on their way to another shutout, 4-0.
Things began to look up for the Tigers in game one of the Saturday doubleheader against Pomona-Pitzer. Vacura started her second game of the weekend and had a much better outing than her Friday appearance. Vacura earned her 10th win of the season, a complete game victory in which she gave up only one run on five hits and struck out one. The lone Sagehen run came on a homerun by catcher Alyssa Corely (senior) in the top of second inning. After this, however, Vacura was able to settle down and pitch shutout softball for the remainder of the contest.
“The difference between [Friday] and [Saturday] was that I knew the batters I was facing. After giving up the homerun, I didn’t throw the same pitches to the same girls and didn’t give up any more runs after that. It feels really good to come out and get a win against Pomona because they are such a huge rival of ours,” Vacura said.
The story of the day happened late in the game. Occidental was down 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning. They started the inning at the top of the order and the heart of the lineup came through for the Tigers. Shimamoto, Gabriela Chavez (senior) and Ashley Noone (sophomore) all recorded singles to load up the bases. Cleanup hitter Phillimeano turned on a fastball, driving a three-run double down the left field line. This would prove to be the difference-maker in the game, as the Tigers would go on to win 3-1.
“That [hit] felt really good, especially after struggling at the beginning of the game. But with that shot I got to help my team out and pull my weight for the team,” Phillimeano said. With this victory, the Tigers snapped the aforementioned eight-game losing streak and put a much-needed ‘W’ in the record column.
Unfortunately, the Tigers were not able to overcome the Sagehens in game two, as they fell in another shutout, 4-0. Garland earned her second loss of the weekend and her eighth loss of the season. She lasted just 3.1 innings, striking out two and giving up three runs on four hits and one walk. Kathleen McLain (sophomore) (0-0) came on to relieve Garland. McLain gave up just one hit in 3.2 innings of work, and a base runner for which Garland was responsible scored on a McLain wild pitch.
Offensively, the Tigers recorded four hits. Chavez, Jerika Barron (first-year) and Lindsay Gross (senior) all had singles for Occidental. McLain also recorded a single, helping out her own cause in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With just two games remaining on their schedule, the Tigers have an overall record of 16-18. Statistically, Chavez is leading the team with a .379 batting average, which she complements with the most hits (39) and runs batted in (19). Shimamoto has a Tiger-best 24 runs scored and has the second-best batting average of .323. In the circle, Vacura has an impressive 3.05 earned run average, which she complements with 86 strikeouts, 14 complete games and an opponent batting average of .265
Next weekend, Occidental will earn forfeit victories against La Sierra University, who is unable to field a team due to eligibility issues. This will even the Tigers’ record at 18-18 and will put extra emphasis on the final doubleheader against LaVerne on April 23, when the Tigers will look to finish at or above .500 and will likely place fifth in SCIAC. Coach Jodie Cox is excited to see her team close out the season on top.
“It’s senior day for our last two games, and LaVerne is one of those conference opponents we really want to beat. We lost to them 4-3 last time we played them, so we’re definitely going to be out for revenge,” said Cox. The Tigers will take the field against LaVerne on April 23 at noon and 2 p.m., respectively.
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