Softball wins SCIAC championship

Campus Times
April 14, 2000


by Vince Zavala
Staff Writer

Two huge wins over Occidental College, 8-0 and 3-0, clinched the conference championship for the Leopards and catapulted them into the Division III regional playoffs last weekend.

The team was in a must-win situation. A loss in either game would have put Redlands in and left the Leopards out.

"It was a total team effort. There are no limits for those who believe," head coach Julie Kline said of her team's key victories over the Tigers.

The Leopards came out of the dugout ready to face the challenge. Not even the heckling from the Occidental fans was enough to distract the Leopards from their mission.

Freshmen pitcher/catcher Gina Meza and junior catcher Kadie Tillema each had two hits, and the Leopards scored three runs in the first inning and five in the fifth inning.

"We just started hitting," said senior designated hitter Jennifer Thompson. "We were just hitting and making plays."

The pitching of sophomore Lacey Cramer was the key element in the Leopards' victory. Cramer had five strikeouts and only allowed two hits in the first game, called short in the fifth inning.

Good hitting and solid defense secured the victory for La Verne as it prepared for an even bigger game.

The shutout victory by Cramer in the first game gave ULV much needed momentum. But the pressure was back on the sophomore pitcher who had to take the mound again for the second game.

"I felt good. We had a good practice and team meeting that helped our confidence," said Cramer.

In the second game Cramer continued her dominance, added three more strikeouts to her day's total and allowed only four hits over seven innings.

"Pitching did it and our defense was working. We just got is done," said Thompson. "I'm really happy to be going to the playoffs because in my 14-year career I haven't had the opportunity to extend my season. This is my last year and I'm pretty excited."

The win guaranteed La Verne a spot in the regional playoffs that will start May 11 and run through May 13.

The site for the playoffs has not yet be set, but Kline believes that it will be somewhere in Southern California because of the good weather.

The team will officially find out May 7 when, where and who they will play.

"We're positive, eager and looking forward to the playoffs," said Kline. "We're happy, but not quite satisfied because we have set our sights beyond conference."

Kline said that her team will not have to make any major adjustments. She believes that if the team continues on the same routine they will be just fine.

The entire team is excited but focused. The Leopards took the win over Occidental no differently than any other victory this season.

"We were very composed. The coaches were more excited then we were," said Thompson.

The team is confident, and they have already played two of the top teams in the region.

In both games against top-ranked Pacific Lutheran University and rival Chapman, the Leopards lost by a single run.

If La Verne happens to win the regional playoffs they would find themselves playing in Salem, Va. in the National playoffs on May 16.

"I am proud of these young ladies," said Kline. "I do not think they are quite aware of how much they can accomplish individually and as a team. I hope this realization comes before the playoffs."

The Leopards will have one last warm-up before the playoffs begin when they travel South to San Diego to play in the University of California at San Diego softball tournament. The event, which will wrap up the regular season, starts today at 1p.m. and runs through Sunday.