CLAREMONT – The University of La Verne softball team opened the 2014 season against Whitworth University with a doubleheader on Friday at the Pomona-Pitzer Field and dropped both games.
Game 1: Whitworth 9, La Verne 1
Returning All-SCIAC First Team utility player Katherine Kibbe struck out three of the first five batters she faced and homered in the 2nd inning, but Whitworth University's offense came alive in the middle innings and the University of La Verne fell in the first game of the season, 9-1.
Kibbe was cruising early, striking out four and not allowing a hit through the first three innings and hitting a towering homer to deep left center to give the Leopards the first lead.
However, the sophomore ran into trouble in the 4th. After Bailey Kasler led off the inning for the Whitworth with a single to center after a long at-bat and Lyss Martinez singled two batters later, Taylor Gilbert drove a pitch to deep right for a two-RBI double. Julia Johnson then followed up with a hit of her own to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
The Pirates tacked on at least a run in each of the next three innings, capitalizing on an error to push across three in the 5th and putting a finish touch in the 7th with a two-run homer by Johnson.
Lyndsay Godwin pitched 3.2 innings in relief of Kibbe and allowed four runs while striking out two.
Gilbert, who started in the circle for Whitworth, went 4 for 4 with 3 RBI in the batter's box and earned the win.
Makayla Lefever recorded the save with three perfect innings.
Game 2: Whitworth 11, La Verne 1 (5 innings)
Whitworth's offensive groove carried over to Game 2 as freshman Hayley Jaquess made her collegiate debut in the circle and went through typical rookie jitters. The Pirates pounced early to open up a big lead and never looked back as La Verne lost 11-1 in five innings.
Jaquess walked the leadoff hitter Brittney Connor and allowed an RBI-single to Shannon Wessel two batters later to quickly fall behind 1-0. The freshman then hit Julia Johnson, gave up a walk to Megan John to load the bases and Peyton McMahon smacked a 1-2 fastball to straightaway center for a grand slam to give the Pirates a 5-0 lead.
The Leopards looked as if they were equal to the challenge when Breanna Delgadillo herself walked to lead off the La Verne 1st and scored on an Alexis Schiff double to deep right center. But the Leos couldn't keep the rally going as Whitworth starter Madi Perez retired Raven Freret and Katherine Kibbe in order to end the inning.
Whitworth piled on with six more runs in the next three innings to put the game out of reach and the Leopard bats couldn't come alive to make a dent on the scoreboard.
Delgadillo went 1 for 2 with a run scored. Schiff and BreeAnna De La Rosa each added a hit as well.
The Leopards travel to Cal St. San Marcos next Friday for the season's first road doubleheader. The first pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m.