The Occidental softball team (10-26 overall, 6-18 SCIAC) was unable to break out of their conference slump, dropping both games of their Friday doubleheader against La Verne and Saturday matchup with Cal Lutheran.
Despite their recent struggles, the softball team came out Friday afternoon ready to work, rallying their team spirit by taking on the Leopards in a heated dance battle to Rihanna’s latest hit prior to the game. Their efforts seemed to have worked, as the Tigers played La Verne — the second best team in SCIACs — to a stalemate during the first few innings.
“While the dance battle started off as a fun way for us to wait until the umpire showed up for the game, it definitely helped to energize the team and keep us loose before the opening pitch,” team captain Mariah Montgomery (senior) said.
Occidental’s first-year pitcher, Alexis Funaki, took the circle for the Tigers in the first game and kept the Leopard bats quiet through the first two innings. Unfortunately, Occidental was unable to capitalize on Funaki’s solid start. The team failed to get a runner across home plate, despite having the bases loaded in the bottom of the second with only one out.
By the start of the third inning, La Verne seemed to figure out Funaki and strung together a handful of hits to score three runs. Funaki slowly regained control as the game wore on, allowing only two runs in the fourth inning and only one run in the fifth.
While Funaki gave up a few runs while in the circle, she tried to make up lost ground in the batter’s box, collecting two hits in her three at bats. Bailey Stevens (first year) also provided some offense, lacing two hits in three at bats. As a team, Occidental did not seem to have an issue making contact with the ball, recording six hits from four different batters. However, the Tigers were unable to string their hits together and left seven runners on base in a 7-0 loss to La Verne.
In the second game of the doubleheader against the Leopards, Occidental again found themselves with an early 3-0 hole in the fourth inning. Similar to the first game, the Tigers had no problem getting the bat on the ball. But this time they were able to string together a few of those hits and score some runs. Alex Battest (junior) started off the Occidental charge with a double to center in the fourth inning. Cayman Hunter (first year) would bring in the Tigers’ first run of the game later in the inning during her only at bat of the game. Natalie Glover (first year) then tied the game for Occidental by batting in two runs with her fourth-inning single.
“There were several crucial hits that the rest of the team was able to feed off of and scoring definitely became contagious,” Kaitlin Cappetto (sophomore) said.
Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to keep their bats alive and their defense faltered late in the game, giving La Verne their second win of the day with a 10-3 score.
While offense was an issue against the Leopards, the Tigers had no problem scoring runs in both of their games against Cal Lutheran Saturday. Between the two games Occidental scored a combined 13 runs.
“It was a huge step for our team because capitalizing on runners in scoring position has been something we have struggled with all season,” Cappetto said.
In the first game against Cal Lutheran, it seemed as though just about everyone in the lineup got a hit for the Tigers, with six different players putting the ball in play. Madison Romero (first year) and Stevens even added some power to the Occidental offense, as both players blasted home runs.
Although the increased offensive output helped the Tigers take a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning, their defense started to show some cracks. Cal Lutheran would go on to score three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and claim a 4-3 victory.
During the second game of the doubleheader, the Tigers found themselves with another early deficit, but slowly built up their offensive production to take a 10-6 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. Seven different Occidental players contributed to the team’s second biggest offensive game of the season.
Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to maintain their lead, giving up six runs in the bottom of the sixth to drop the game to Cal Lutheran 12-10.
But even with the loss, the Occidental team has shown significant signs of improvement and will look to carry their newfound offensive production into their final games of the season.
“Going into the last weekend we just want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are an amazing team and this program has come such a long way since the start of the season,” Dallas Boyce (sophomore) said.
The final weekend of games for the Tigers will start off at 2 p.m. this Friday with a doubleheader against Whittier at Bell Field. This Friday’s games will also be the final time that the Occidental seniors will play in front of their home crowd.