The Panthers had mixed results in their softball SCIAC doubleheader Saturday at El Camino Real Park, as they won the first matchup 4-0 but then fell 8-0 to the visiting University of La Verne in their first loss of the season.
Chapman’s (7-1, 5-1) loss came to an uncharacteristically early close in the fifth inning due to mercy rule. The rule ends the game when one team scores eight unanswered runs by the bottom of the fifth inning.
Senior outfielder Kerry Peterson attributed La Verne’s (8-2, 4-2) run to a mental breakdown.
“We couldn’t get hits anywhere and we weren’t solid on defense,” Peterson said. “If you don’t have hitting then you have to rely solely on pitching and that made it harder for our pitchers to perform.”
The Panthers hit numerous ground balls that led to outs.
“We weren’t adjusting how we needed to. We needed to challenge their pitchers,” Peterson said.
The first game against La Verne proved more successful as freshman pitcher Natalie Both tossed her first career shutout.
“I really wasn’t thinking about the shutout. I was just thinking about getting the win for the team,” Both said.
Chapman was able to string together key hits in the game that brought in one run in the third inning and three runs in the fourth.
Earlier in the week, the team won both games of its doubleheader series against nonconference Vanguard University 6-1 and 3-1 Wednesday.
In the series opener against Vanguard (8-9), Both was just one inning away from pitching a perfect game until she allowed the host Lions’ first hit in the sixth inning.
“I was feeling really good. I didn’t know I hadn’t walked anyone until one of my teammates mentioned it before the sixth inning. Then they got that hit over the third baseman’s head and I was pissed,” Both said
As a freshman in her first season for Chapman, Both said that although the level of competition is higher, she still takes every game with a level head.
Chapman has split its doubleheader with Vanguard for the past two seasons. Prior to that, the Panthers dropped both games to the Lions in the 2009 and 2010 series. Despite the grim record, head coach Janet Lloyd believed this roster of seasoned players is the right mix.
“I thought it would be closer, but I was pleasantly surprised. We haven’t swept Vanguard in a doubleheader for a long time,” Lloyd said.
The Panthers held a solid lead in both games from a strong lineup of Chapman hitters, but Both expects to see more aggressive pitching from fellow conference foes.
“The pitchers we’ve faced have been pretty slow,” Both said.
Chapman will venture to Whittier College to resume SCIAC play in a doubleheader series Friday at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. With merely one loss on the season, the Poets pose a threat for the conference’s highest rank.
“It’s going to be a battle for the top spot,” Lloyd said.