The University of La Verne earned a doubleheader split at Whittier College, taking the opening contest 13-8 with the Poets posting an 8-4 win in the second game in SCIAC softball action Saturday at Palmer Field in Whittier.
La Verne enjoyed a power surge in the first game by blasting five homers among its 14 hits on its way to victory. Whittier scored four runs in each of the first and fourth innings to turn back the Leos in the second game. As a result of the split, the Leopards remain in the driver's seat for the fourth and final spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament with one weekend remaining in the regular season.
GAME 1: La Verne 13, Whittier 8
The Leopards wasted little time in getting on the board as they scored three times in the top of the first inning thanks in part to a pair of Poet errors. Raven Freret hit an RBI single for a 1-0 lead, with two Whittier miscues resulting in two more runs for the Leos as they took a 3-0 cushion.
Leading 3-2 in the top of the third, La Verne erupted for four runs ignited by a Freret solo homer to right field. Three more runs came courtesy of a bases loaded walk to Melisa Sponholz followed by a hit-by-pitch to Mackenzie Dutton, and later a sacrifice fly from Danielle Vela.
Whittier responded in the bottom half of the frame getting RBI singles from Jordan Learn and Alexandra Flores along with an RBI groundout by Cindy Loza to pull within three at 7-5.
Breeanna De La Rosa led off the fourth with a solo homer over the centerfield fence. After Freret walked, Kibbe belted a two-run shot to leftfield - her team-leadng sixth of the season - for a 10-5 Leopard lead.
The Leopards weren't done with the longball as Jackie Duran, who hit a three-run roundtripper yesterday against Occidental, went deep for the second straight day as she smacked a two-run homer to extend their lead to 12-5.
Whittier added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within five at 12-7, but the Leos would deliver one final blow courtesy of Sponholz, who smacked a homer to rightfield for a 13-7 Leopard advantage. Though the Poets' Mickala Gonzales homered in the bottom of the sixth, La Verne would go on to victory on the strength of five home runs.
Kibbe went the distance in the circle for La Verne with five strikeouts to record her ninth victory of the season.
GAME 2: Whittier 8, La Verne 4
La Verne continued its offensive momentum in the top of the first on a run scoring single from Freret followed by an RBI double from Candice Nunez to take a 2-0 lead.
The advantage was short-lived as Whittier's Gonzales belted a three-run home run followed by a Xzandra Miranda-Castro solo homer to push the Poets in front 4-2.
In the top of the third, the Leos pulled to within a run when Nunez collected her second RBI of the game, a single to leftfield to plate Kibbe.
The Poets seized some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth when with two outs, they loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. Flores would next come through for Whittier, delivering a bases clearing double down the rightfield line to score Erica Lespron, Courtney DeLano and Learn for a 7-3 lead. Cindy Loza followed with a double to drove in Flores for a five-run advantage.
Though the Leopards would add a fourth run in top of the seventh on a run scoring double from De La Rosa, Whittier would close out with a four-run triumph to split the twinbill.
The Leopards and Poets took part in the Strike Out Cancer Event, marking the 3rd Annual Strike Out Cancer promotion sponsored by Whittier College and the University of La Verne softball programs. Both teams asked all spectators to donate $5 each towards our efforts and help support the day by wearing pink.
La Verne (22-14, 14-12 SCIAC) plays host to Pomona-Pitzer in a doubleheader next Friday in the regular season finale. Start time is 2:00 pm.