The softball team was able to pounce early on conference contender Occidental College, jumping out to commanding leads in both 6-2 and 7-3 wins of the doubleheader series Saturday at Bell Field.
The pair of wins propelled the Panthers into a three-way tie with the University of Redlands and the University of La Verne for the first seed in SCIAC. It is the first time since 2007 that the Panthers have been 4-0.
“This start is huge for us and we aren’t even playing our best ball yet,” senior left fielder Kerry Peterson said.
In the first game of the series, Chapman (4-0, 4-0) and the host Tigers traded runs in the first frame. Senior center fielder Jenny Richards was knocked in on a sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Stephanie Engle.
The Panthers quickly took the reins, scoring three times in the second frame. Peterson got things going with a lead off a single and was driven on a double by freshman second baseman Larissa Rinauro. Rinauro responded, scoring on a throwing error by Occidental’s (3-4, 0-2) junior third baseman Meghan Luera. Freshman right fielder Amy Serven also scored in the inning on a single by sophomore designated hitter Karina Muniz.
Chapman added two more runs in the sixth on a Muniz double, scoring Serven and Richards.
Sophomore pitcher Cassie Oregel was dominant Saturday as she was in her previous start, once again pitching a complete game. Oregel struck out two batters over seven innings and allowed a mere two runs.
“I’m just moving my pitches around and hitting my spots. Doing those things has allowed me to be successful,” Oregel said.
But the win didn’t go to the Panthers’ heads, turning in yet another 7-3 romp of Occidental in the second game of the series. Chapman again got out to an initial lead, highlighted by doubles from Richards, Muniz and senior first baseman Brittany Furlong. The trio scored at least one run each in the inning alone.
Freshman pitcher Natalie Both worked well with the Panthers’ offensive cushion, allowing just three runs in seven innings. Both also struck out nine, while only walking one by throwing 27 balls on 106 pitches.
“The good pitching that we have gotten has been really important,” Muniz said. “Good pitching is crucial, and without it, there is a much greater sense of pressure on the offense.”
Chapman will venture to Vanguard University Wednesday afternoon for a nonconference doubleheader before returning home for SCIAC play. With the conference’s first seed up for grabs, the Panthers will square off with the University of La Verne Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. at El Camino Real Park.