Softball rides power surge to beat Pomona-Pitzer

LA VERNE, Calif. — Victoria Baltazar just keeps on hitting.

The junior transfer went 2-for-4 at the plate, including a go-ahead three-run blast in the sixth, and the University of La Verne softball team defeated Pomona-Pitzer, 9-5, in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader.

It was her first homerun as a Leopard and through Saturday's games, Baltazar is hitting .396 with 13 runs batted in and 12 runs scored.

"I expected this from [Tori] because she's a 'grit' player," La Verne head coach Julie Smith said of Baltazar's torrid start. "She playing with her heart, her gut and grit. She brings a fighter mentality to the field."

With two outs and runners at the corners in the bottom of the sixth, Baltazar belted a fastball over the left field fence to give the Leopards an 8-5 lead.

If Baltazar finished the game for the Leopards, it was Mackenzie Dutton who started the rally.

Dutton led off the bottom of the fourth with a straight-away bomb to break the scoring seal and get the Leopards going.

It was her third homerun of the season and she would notch the fourth in the second game.  She came into the season with two career homeruns in her first two seasons.

Dutton is hitting a scorching .463 through Saturday's games and has four home runs and 16 runs batted in.

Smith says the key to Dutton's early season success has been the junior's focus. "Kenzie came in this year more locked in and focused on softball," Smith said. "She's developed tremendously over the past two years and she's had this power, but sometimes she'd think too much. Right now, she's trusting the process and trusting herself.

"It's just, 'See ball, hit ball' for her right now."

Dutton went 2-for-2 with two runs, two RBI and two walks in the first game.

Alexis Schiff also hit a homerun and it was just as important as Dutton's and Baltazar's. Rebecca Ireland and Dutton got the Leopards within 5-3 with a suicide squeeze and an RBI single, respectively. Schiff then hit a laser over down the left field line to tie the game at 5-5.

Emily Rockhill and Natalie Ireland each hit a homer in the third to help the Sagehens stake out to an early 5-0 lead.

Katherine Kibbe picked up a SCIAC-leading fifth win of the season in the circle, going all seven innings while giving up just one earned run.

Game 2: Pomona-Pitzer 11, La Verne 2 (5 innings)

Dutton hit another homerun but Pomona-Pitzer bats came alive as the Sagehens won, 11-2, in the second game.

Dutton's two-run shot in the third cut the deficit to 7-2, but the Leopards could not muster another run.

Pomona-Pitzer scored the game's first seven runs and added four more in the fourth and the fifth inning to put the game away early.

La Verne returns to action next Saturday at Whittier. The first game of a doubleheader starts at noon.

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