Softball sweeps Oxy in home opener

Ayanna Sanchez winds up for a pitch.
Ayanna Sanchez (photo by Larry Newman)

ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University softball team swept the visiting Occidental Tigers at El Camino Real Park earlier this evening. Freshman pitcher Ayanna Sanchez led the Panthers to a mercy-rule victory in game one while senior Christine LoVerde hit .750 in game two with one run scored.

Game 1 – Chapman 13, Occidental 3 – 5 innings

Sanchez earned the first win of her career in the six-strikeout effort. The rookie pitched all five innings, allowing just three runs as the Panthers rolled past the Tigers.

The action started in the bottom of the first as the Panthers scored nine runs to jump out to a huge lead. Senior Hope Ballard and junior Kyra Gallego each knocked in two runs to put Chapman up 5-0. With runners on second and third and one out, senior Elizabeth Runge hit a sac fly to right field, adding another run to the lead.

After cycling through the whole lineup, junior Michaela Foisy hit an infield single to advance the runner to third. An error by the Tigers' center fielder allowed by runners to score, followed by a single up the middle from senior Samantha Whalen to bring in the ninth and final run of the inning.

Occidental scored one run in the top of the third but the Panthers answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Ballard knocked in the final two runs of the inning to tally a total of four RBIs in the game.

The Tigers put up two more runs in the top of the fourth but could not spark enough of a comeback to send the game into the final two innings. The Panthers mercy-ruled Occidental in just five innings.

Game 2 – Chapman 12, Occidental 9

In another high-scoring game, the Panthers came from behind to earn their fourth consecutive victory. Chapman struck first and early once again, pouring in four runs in the bottom of the first. With the bases loaded and no outs, Ballard walked and junior Heaven Wong was hit by a pitch, scoring two runs. Freshman Mykala Tokunaga stepped up to the plate and singled to left field, scoring another run and putting the Panthers up 3-0. Runge hit another sac fly to add the final run of the inning and give Chapman a four-run lead.

A scoreless second and top of the third brought the Panthers up to the plate in the bottom of the half. Sophomore Lagi Pakola tripled deep down the right field line, scoring two runs. A missed catch from the third baseman allowed Pakola to make a run for home plate and score, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers caught fire in the fourth and fifth innings, scoring eight runs to take an 8-7 lead with just two innings left to play. Whalen, Ballard and Wong stepped up in the bottom of the fifth, knocking in five runs to re-take the lead.

The Tigers scored one final run in the top of the seventh, but Tokunaga took the circle and earned her second save of the season after recording the final two outs of the inning.

Freshman Kelly McCarty earned her first career win after pitching two solid innings, allowing just one run and striking out one.

The Panthers return to El Camino Real Park tomorrow, March 10 to host Ithaca in a non-conference doubleheader at 11 a.m.

by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant

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