After months of pre-season inter-team scrimmages and workouts, the Pomona-Pitzer softball team (1-2, 0-0 SCIAC) was finally ready to play a real opponent. With only three seniors and two juniors out of 16 players, the young team struggled in its first match of the season against Pacific University Oregon (3-0) on Friday, Feb. 12, coming up short in an 8-4 loss.
“We were coming into the weekend knowing it was our first game,” said pitcher and first baseman Emily Rockhill PO ’18. “We played Pacific, which is a tough team to start out playing. They’re really good, so having played that game on Friday, I felt like we came in even more prepared to get into it [on Saturday].”
Indeed, the more experience they had, the better the Sagehens performed. The next day, they faced Lewis & Clark College (3-3, 0-0 Conf.) in a back-to-back double-header. Although they lost 4-3 in their first game, the Sagehens played strongly. After a throwing error, a hit from Hannah Dal Pra, and two sacrifice flies in the third inning resulted in four runs for the Pios, P-P responded with two runs of their own. Even though a single from Sofia Baig PO ’17 put the Sagehens behind by one run to end the fifth inning, stellar pitching from Kalin Rooney sealed the win for the Pios.
“We started to adjust during the first game, but it was too late,” Rockhill reflected on the loss.
However, the Sagehens were determined to redeem themselves in their afternoon rematch.
“We decided that we were going to score earlier in the game, and I think that made a big difference,” Kelsey Buchanan PO ’18 said. The team also noticed that Lewis & Clark had lost their spark from the first game, “and we jumped on that,” Buchanan added.
Indeed, P-P capitalized on Lewis & Clark’s lack of energy and came out swinging. During the second game, the two teams alternated the lead: After a single from Susanne Boden PO ’16 drove in Aryana Lee PO ’16 in the third, the Pios answered with an immediate run in the top of the fourth. But the Sagehens ultimately pulled out the win, thanks to two hits each from Rockhill and Buchanan and seven impressive steady innings from pitcher Liz Rodarte PZ ’19.
In softball, getting hits and staying solid on defense is only half the battle. For the Sagehens, team energy and mental stability play just as crucial a role in their success. Buchanan believes that in the coming games, the key to the team’s success will be keeping spirits high and joining together as a collective unit to win every game.
The team is using this past weekend as a learning experience, and an opportunity to thrive throughout the season. “A lot of things change when you get into a real game,” Rockhill said. “Being in practice for over a month has been really nice in some ways, but also you see a lot of things you need to work on when you get back in to games.”
For Buchanan, the best part of the season has been “seeing it all come together, and seeing that we don’t have a weakling on the team.” She also appreciates her team’s versatility: “We have people who can come in at any point; everyone has faith in each other, and everyone is performing really well.”
With a little experience under their belt, the Sagehens are finding their rhythm in preparation for matches against Whitworth University on Saturday, Feb. 20, and Occidental College on Sunday, Feb. 21.
Rockhill believes that maintaining their high intensity from game two against Lewis & Clark will give the Sagehens a competitive edge in these games. “Loosening up a little bit is going to help us,” she said. “You have to make yourself be that person who can be loud, even if you aren’t. You just have to make it a softball thing: A different softball persona.”