Under the direction of a new coaching staff, the University of Redlands softball team began a new era with Saturday's opening doubleheader against the Whitworth University (WA) Pirates on the Field of Dreams. Despite a late push by the visiting team, the Bulldogs recorded Head Coach Liz Slupinski's first-ever win at the helm of the program in a 6-5 decision in the opening contest. Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived, as Redlands dropped the night cap in a 3-11 decision.
During the first game, junior shortstop Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) got things started with a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the third. This inspired her teammates, as senior outfielder Amanda Ang (Santa Cruz, CA) reached on a perfectly-executed bunt, before senior third baseman Summer Smith (Redlands, CA) sent her home on a double to left center. Junior catcher Lali Garza (Granite Bay, CA) added another run with her RBI-single to left field.
Although Whitworth eventually answered with a two-spot in the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs immediately responded in the bottom of the inning with a pair of runs. After setting the groundwork with a triple to right center, Ang scored on a passed ball, before Garza crushed a double to plate Smith from second base.
But the Pirates refused to go away and managed three more runs to tie it up, which forced Redlands to step up in the bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two outs, freshman designated player Nicole Stanzione (San Marcos, CA) forced an error by the Pirate second baseman, which allowed Skrzynski to cross the plate for the game-winning run.
Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) went the distance in her fist start of the season to earn the win from the circle.
Smith impressed with a 4-for-4 showing with two runs scored and one RBI. Skrzynski, Ang, and Garza each recorded two hits for the Bulldogs.
During the second contest, Whitworth's offense woke up early and plated runs in the first and second innings. Redlands rallied in the bottom of the third with a two-run effort, as sophomore second baseman Hayley Romo (Port Orchard, WA) and Ang crossed home plate. Smith added another double to her already-solid day in the process.
Unfortunately, the Maroon and Gray's momentum stopped there, as the Pirates tacked on crooked numbers in the fourth and sixth innings.
Redlands (1-1) faces George Fox University (OR) on Monday, February 6, at 12 noon at the Field of Dreams.