The Pomona-Pitzer softball team (11-25, 8-14 SCIAC) split their series against the Whittier Poets (22-14, 9-11 SCIAC) Saturday. In the first game, despite recording 12 hits as a team, the Sagehens lost 8-1. Later that afternoon the Sagehens redeemed themselves, however, shutting out Whittier 1-0.
In the first inning of the first game, Whittier established an early lead with four hits and three runs. The Poets hit consecutive doubles that resulted in all three of the inning’s runs.
The Sagehens looked keen on bridging the gap in the bottom of the first, after a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt sent Mackenzie Smith PO ’09 to second and Arianna Roach PI ’12 to third. The Sagehens’ next two hits, however, were both pop-flies to the third baseman’s glove.
For the next five innings the Sagehens remained scoreless, despite collecting six hits. The Poets were able to add one more to their score sheet in the top of the fourth, putting the score at 4-0.
Although Melanie Gularte PI ’10 was able to hold the Poets scoreless in the fifth and sixth, she again fell victim to the big inning, allowing four runs to score in the seventh inning. Ignoring the first and seventh innings, Gularte pitched strong otherwise, giving up only five hits and one run in the middle frames.
The Sagehens did have a glimmer of hope in the seventh inning, when Leanna Guillermo PI ’09 batted Roach in for the Sagehen’s first run of the game. Despite the beginnings of a rally, the Sagehens could not make up the point difference and conceded the game 8-1.
Roach led the Sagehens from the plate with a total of four hits over the series. In the first game, the first-year student hit three for four at bats, an impressive 0.750.
“I came to the field focused and ready to play,” said Roach. “I also…was motivated to give it my all for the seniors. I know they all wanted these wins with not many games left to play.”
Co-captain Smith also hit three for four. She was a key offensive player for the Sagehens in both matches.
Despite losing their first game, the Sagehens tightened their defense and limited Whittier to only four hits in game two.
“We played much better defense in the second game and Mackenzie Smith did a great job shutting down the Whittier offense,” said head coach Joanne Ferguson. “Whittier has strong bats in their line-up, but Mackenzie pitched an outstanding game.”
Smith, who led the Sagehens in batting in their first game, stepped up to the mound for the second. In seven innings, the senior recorded four strikeouts, equaling the combined efforts of both Whittier pitchers in that game. Additionally, she did not allow a runner to reach third base after the first inning.
Smith, who will be graduating this year, expressed satisfaction with her final performance against Whitter.
“For me personally, being a senior and all, it was my last time playing Whittier so to shut them out was the perfect way to end the series against them,” she said. “At this point in the season we don’t have much to lose so it was nice to put everything out there and to come out with the win.”
The Sagehens also came out strong on the plate, collecting ten hits. Their focus was evident from the first inning, in which P-P made two hits. Smith once again contributed solidly, going two for three. Co-captain Christine Calderon PO ’09 stepped up, also batting two for three.
Roach’s single hit of the game was also the winning RBI for the Sagehens. In the second inning, with the game scoreless, P-P had runners on first and second with two outs. Roach was able to stay cool under pressure, hitting a single and allowing first-year student Emily Buika PO ’12 to take home.
The Sagehens also had their strongest overall performance in the second inning. Including Roach’s, the team collected four hits in that inning—almost half of their game total.
Even though P-P held a precarious one-run lead, their defense prevented the Poets from tying the score.
“I think we made all the right plays at the right moments,” said Smith. “Our defense was solid and our offensive was able to get one run across, which was all we needed.”
Next week P-P will play their final conference games of the season in a double-header against Redlands. Redlands is currently ranked first in SCIAC, and will be a challenge for the plucky Sagehen squad.