The University of Redlands softball team faced the visiting Wildcats of Linfield College (OR) in a non-conference doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at the Field of Dreams. With a six-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs rallied back to capture a wild, 10-9 win in the opener. Unfortunately, their luck changed in the nightcap, as Linfield put up a crooked number in the first inning, which led to a five-inning, 0-8 loss for the Bulldogs.
During the opener, Linfield jumped on the board with a two-spot in the first frame, but Redlands cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, senior right fielder Shandell Curtis (Upland, CA) launched a sacrifice fly to right field to plate senior shortstop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) from third.
However, the Wildcats extended their lead to 7-2 by the middle of the fourth frame, forcing Redlands into an uphill battle.
After back-to-back errors by the Linfield pitcher, first-year center fielder Samantha Rivas (Whittier, CA) approached the plate with two runners on. She took advantage of the opportunity by blasting the second bomb of her Bulldog career, with this one flying over the left-center fence for three RBI. Suddenly, Redlands trailed by only two at 5-7. With the Bulldogs' revitalized outlook, Baumgarten blasted a double to left center and forced a Wildcat pitching change. Regardless, Baumgarten moved to third on a wild pitch to set up another chance to score. Senior designated player Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) crushed a triple to right center for the RBI, as Baumgarten easily touched home. The rally seemed to stop there, as Linfield forced back-to-back groundouts on the subsequent two batters. However, sophomore left fielder Jaci Sanchez (Lakewood, CA) and junior second baseman Jordyn Smith (Highland, CA) had other plans, as they each uncorked doubles to score one run apiece for the Bulldogs' first lead of the day at 8-7.
In the top of the fifth frame, first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) lifted junior pitcher Lindsey Mifsud (Belmont, CA) from the circle and immediately caused trouble for the Wildcats. In her first half-inning, she retired the side, with nothing escaping the infield. Her success continued in the top of the sixth, as she sat down the first two batters. Nonetheless, Linfield managed to show patience at the plate and put two runners on with free passes. Redlands escaped the inning unscathed after Smith made a stellar defensive play to stop the potential single and flipped it to Baumgarten for the nice out on a fielder's choice at second base.
This inspired the Maroon and Gray offense to go back to work in the bottom of the sixth, with Smith providing enough of a window for senior first baseman Olivia Vierra (Burlingame, CA) to beat out the throw at home on a fielder's choice. Vierra made her way to third on a single up the middle that was followed by Curtis' sacrifice bunt and Sanchez's single through the right side. Junior catcher Nova Siegel (Fairfield, CA) tacked on another RBI with a single down the right-field line, which scored Sanchez from second base for the Bulldogs' 10-7 lead.
Although the Wildcats put up two runs in the top of the seventh, Hernandez hung in there for the save by striking out the final batter.
Amidst the back-and-forth action, Mifsud gained the win after four innings of work with two strikeouts.
Rivas impressed with a 4-for-5 day with three RBI and one run scored. She supplied two singles, a triple, and a home run.
Skrzynski, Vierra, and Sanchez each knocked two hits, while Sanchez and Smith tallied a pair of RBI.
Redlands entered the second game hoping to ride this momentum to another win on the season. However, Linfield immediately put up a six-spot in the first inning to create a sizeable hole for the Bulldogs. Despite doubles from Vierra and Siegel in the third and fourth frames, Redlands struggled to connect on any string of hits, which led to the shutout.
After five innings, Mika Imoto took the loss from the circle.
Redlands (2-6, 1-1 SCIAC) hosts Whittier College on Saturday, February 24, at 12 noon for a SCIAC doubleheader at the Field of Dreams.