Monday's doubleheader between the University of La Verne and Whittier College provided plenty of action as the squads eventually battled to a doubleheader split. More importantly, the two teams came together for a worthy cause as part of the Strikeout Cancer event at Wheeler Park.
The two games provided a stark contrast as the Leopards prevailed 2-1 in a pitcher's duel in the first game with the Poets outlasting La Verne in a 10-9 slugfest to salvage a split in the second game.
Leopard freshman Rebecca Ho sparkled on the mound in the opener, allowing just one hit while collecting a career-high 14 strikeouts in a complete game victory.
La Verne got both of its runs in the bottom of the first as an RBI single from Raven Freret scored Tara Allis for the first run of the game. Jackie Duran followed with RBI double down the left field line to score Freret for a 2-0 Leopard lead.
Ho was dominant in the early going, striking out seven of the first nine batters she faced, including striking out the side in the third. Whittier pitcher Courtney DeLano was almost as effective as she recovered from the two-run first inning and held the Leopards scoreless the rest of the way.
Ho continued to shut down the Poets through the middle innings without yielding a hit. Though she lost the no-hit bid and subsequent shutout in the seventh, Ho managed to maneuver out of trouble to notch the victory.
Whittier's first two batters reach on a hit-by-pitch and walk. Samantha Mellano followed with the first and only Poet hit of the game to score Cindy Loza to narrow the lead to 2-1 and put runners on first and third with no one out. Ho emphatically ended the Poet uprising by fanning the next three batters to preserve the win.
In the second game, the Poets jumped out to a 5-1 advantage with three runs in the second inning on four hits and an error followed by two runs in the third courtesy of a two-run double from Mercedez Cundiff.
The Poets seemingly put the game out of reach in the fourth with five runs on five hits - including a two-run single from Xzandra Miranda-Castro - on their way to a 10-1 lead.
La Verne responded in the bottom of the fifth with an eight-run explosion. A bases loaded single from Allis scored Danielle Vela with the Leopards' second run. Freret followed with a bases-clearing double which drove in three runs to close the gap to 10-5. The Leos again loaded the bases in the frame and added four runs - three of which on a two-run double from Vela and a run-scoring single from Burns.
The Leos closed the gap to a single run but were unable to draw even. Daryn Schiveley hit a two-out triple in the bottom of the sixth but was stranded at third base as the Poets escaped the inning by recording the third out. Whittier pitcher Jessica Rosnack earned the win, finishing the game with a strikeout with a runner on first in the bottom of the seventh to turn back a potential Leopard rally.
The Leopard squad donned special uniforms for the Strikeout Cancer event, an initiative from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and the American Cancer Society. Donations were made during the doubleheader towards the fight against breast cancer. In addition, Several La Verne students also participated in a "Walk To Wheeler" event in conjuction with Strikeout Cancer T-shirts made available to fans all in support of breast cancer awareness. Several local sponsors included the following:
- Guy Grater
- Nick Abbadessa (Remax Masters)
- Red Devil Pizza
- Warehouse Pizza
- Cafe Cabo
- Frisella's Roastery
All told, the Leopard softball program raised a total of $1200!
La Verne returns to action Friday as they made the short trip to Claremont to take on CMS in a doubleheader beginning at 2:00 pm.