Author: Ryan Whalen
Baseball (1-2 overall, 0-0 SCIAC)
After completing one of the winningest seasons in the past decade at 26-15, the Occidental baseball team will attempt to overcome the loss of several key players to improve upon last year’s mark and compete for one of the top spots in the conference. Even though the black and orange recently graduated All-SCIAC players Logan Allen ‘13, Pedro Aldape ‘13 and Scott Hong ‘14, juniors AJ Libunao, Victor Munoz and Johnathan Brooks are poised to carry the offensive duties. Brooks batted .417 last season while leading the team in RBI (38) and slugging percentage (.508). On the mound, ace Joe Kling (junior) and No. 2 CJ Maruyama (sophomore), both of whom started at least 10 games and recorded sub-3.5 ERAs, will lead an experienced Occidental pitching staff. Senior Mitch Margolis, along with newcomers Devon DeRaad and Riley James, will compete for regular positions in the starting rotation. Senior David Feasler, sophomores Trevor Lecka and Scott Ericksen and first-year Nolan Watson are slated to make relief appearances out of the bullpen. The Tigers have already played in three non-conference games to open the season. After struggling to find an offensive spark in losses against La Sierra (4-0) and Emory (11-2), the squad bounced back with a close 8-7 win over Whitworth Sunday. Senior Riley Smith and Munoz catalyzed the victory with homers in the first and fourth innings, respectively. Occidental begins conference play this weekend, traveling to Chapman Friday before hosting the Panthers in a Saturday doubleheader.
Women’s Water Polo (1-1 overall, 0-0 SCIAC)
The Occidental women’s water polo team started off its season Saturday at the Whittier Invitational. Although the Tigers’ roster took a hit after graduating five players from last year’s squad, the black and orange has more than reloaded the depth chart with 10 new faces. To complement the newcomers, seniors Lindsay Albino, Morgan McClafferty, Kelsey Shyba and Katya Soot are using their wealth of game experience to act as team facilitators. Incoming utility player Carly Zurcher (first-year), the first left-hander to play on the unit since 2011, will allow for an added offensive and defensive dynamic. The black and orange will participate in the Lancer Invite Saturday, opening up against Azusa Pacific at 9 a.m.
Women’s Lacrosse (1-0 overall, 1-0 SCIAC)
The Occidental women’s lacrosse team has caught fire to start its 2014 campaign, stomping UCLA 20-4 and breezing by conference opponent Chapman, 18-12. The black and orange’s two wins also marked the first victories for new head coach Stephanie Janice, who took over during the off-season. The No. 2 Tigers are led by several All-SCIAC players, including seniors Tori Larson and Rebecca Belding and Beebe Finch Sanders (junior). Larson seemed in mid-season form Saturday, scoring six goals against the Panthers. The squad continues SCIAC play tonight, hosting Redlands at 7 p.m. at Jack Kemp Stadium.
Track & Field
The Occidental men’s track and field team took a step back last year, finishing fourth in the SCIAC despite having six athletes win post-season accolades. But two-time All-American sprinter Jonathan Padron (senior) will spearhead the Tigers’ attempt to maintain a presence at nationals this season. While Padron will be the face of the Occidental sprinters, Colin Smith (junior) will be the No. 1 distance runner for the black and orange. Smith, who ran a personal best of 3:56.88 minutes in the 1500-meter race at the SCIAC Championships, is poised to be one of the top scorers for the team. On the women’s side, the 2013 season was a bittersweet experience, as the squad produced 10 All-SCIAC performers but failed to advance any athletes to the NCAA Division-III Championships. However, they now boast a deep roster of distance runners, led by Mel Devoney (first-year), Jenna Wong (senior), Megan Bull (sophomore) and Marnie Kinnaird (senior), all of whom were awarded All-SCIAC honors at the culmination of the fall’s cross country season. Meanwhile, returning sprinters Jenny Quilty (junior) and Ayana Foster (senior) will be the premier short-distance specialists for the women this season. Both teams will travel to the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers Meet Saturday.
Senior outfielder Jackie Shimamoto has bolstered the Occidental softball team’s (1-5 overall, 0-0 SCIAC) offensive attack over the past two years and, six games into the 2014 season, is again expected to play an integral role. The two-time All-SCIAC selection led the Tigers in nearly every offensive category last season. She batted .409, drove in 23 runs, hit three home runs, had a .508 on-base percentage and compiled a .645 slugging percentage – numbers good enough to earn her a First Team nod. Shimamoto has solidified herself as an everyday No. 3 hitter over the course of her career and already tops the team in batting average (.333) and slugging percentage (.500) so far this season while ranking second on the squad in on-base percentage (.400). Outside the batter’s box, she has established herself as a defensive threat in center field, utilizing her speed and awareness to play error-free softball. Shimamoto and company open SCIAC play this weekend, hosting a Saturday doubleheader against La Verne and traveling to Chapman for another pair Sunday.
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