LA VERNE — The first two games at Campus West did not turn out the way the University of La Verne softball team would have imagined, dropping both games of a doubleheader against Chapman, 9-8 and 10-0, on Friday.
After dropping game one in its dying moments, the Leopards (11-17, 7-11 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) could not rebound in game two, giving up seven runs in the top of the third inning that essentially put the game away.
"I know they have more fight and they know they have more fight too, but we couldn't recover from game one," La Verne head coach Julie Smith said. "But the losses today are not going to take away from this gift we got from the University of La Verne."
The most pivotal point of the doubleheader came in the top of the seventh inning of game one.
Trailing 8-3 entering the inning, the Panther offense came alive and scored six runs to take a 9-8 lead and earn the game one win.
Chapman (20-14, 13-9 SCIAC) scored the runs progressively, coming by way of a sacrifice and two singles, and batted through their entire lineup before the inning's end.
Consecutive singles and a walk loaded the bases before a sacrifice fly to center field by freshman shortstop Amber Perez scored the first run, and recorded the second out.
A single put the game-tying run at first base, then the Panthers came within striking distance on a two-RBI single.
Another walk followed up by another two-RBI single tied the game before it came to an astonishing end.
Chapman sophomore right fielder Natalie Both stole home when La Verne senior catcher Melisa Sponholz attempted to pick off junior center fielder Karina Muniz at second base.
The Leopards could not muster a run to force extra inning.
"We have to close the door," Smith said. "The pitcher has to do their job, the defense has to make the plays. We need to collaborate more on defense."
La Verne was in control the whole time, taking a three run lead in the first inning.
That lead doubled in the fourth after sophomore first baseman Katy Kibbe hit a three-run home run, the first home run ever at Campus West.
Two more runs in the sixth seemed to have put the game away, but 10 runners left on base proved to be a crucial statistic in hindsight.
The letdown from game one carried over into game two, and was compounded by Both stepping onto the pitcher's mound.
Both leads the SCIAC in strikeouts with 145 and is second in earned run average at 1.62.
Both forced many of the balls put into play on the ground or in the air to her defense, and retired six of her own in the mercy rule win.
La Verne only saw four base runners, two from singles and two from walks.
A fielding error and a three run home run propelled the Chapman offense during the decisive third inning.
"We had a tough loss after winning the whole time and giving up six runs in one inning, it weighs a lot on you," junior center fielder BreeAnna De La Rosa said. "It's hard to come back mentally and physically."
Playing at the new field was not a problem according to players, pointing out that it is like going to any opponent's field; they are responsible for making adjustments themselves beforehand.
"When are error or something happens, it's on the team to clean it up and when you don't, it's sort of like a domino effect," senior second baseman Danielle Vela said.
In game one, Jaquess pitched five and one-thirds innings, giving up six hits, three earned runs and walking one. Senior designated hitter Raven Freret had a team-high three hits, one RBI, and two runs scored.
Before the start of game one, Athletic Director Julie Kline threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
La Verne looks to bounce back at 12 and 2 p.m. tomorrow at Campus West in their annual Breast Cancer Awareness Games against second ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Daniel Hargis is a senior Journalism major and Spanish minor at the University of La Verne, expecting to graduate in Spring 2014. He played on the Men's Water Polo team the past four years and has written sports for both the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine. He is currently working on his senior project, a sports blog titled Hargis Sports Weekly. You can follow him on Twitter @Hargis_SW and like his project on Facebook on Facebook.com/HargisSW.