California Lutheran University hosted the Whittier Poets in a conference showdown March 9, 2019. The first game ended in a 12-7 loss and second game ended in a 7-6 victory with a miraculous come-back walk off win in the last inning of play by junior infielder Catherine Slabaugh.
In the first game, the Poets scored 4 runs early in the first inning with a pair of runs coming from a home run by Whittier senior catcher Brittany Attaway.
The Regals were able to answer in the following innings with 5 runs by both junior infielders Danielle Chatman and Sienna Vannoy. Both Regals hit home runs in the bottom of the third to bring the Regals within 1 run of the poets.
Vannoy said the hours she has put into practicing hitting make her feel comfortable in any situation, against any pitcher.
“I come early before and also stay after practice to get extra hitting in and that has helped me a lot. I focus on slowing the game down and taking the power away from the pitcher,” Vannoy said.
Throughout the rest of the game, the Regals managed to get runners on base, but had a tough time executing with runners in scoring position as they left six on base. Meanwhile, the Poets kept their momentum from the first inning rolling, scoring at least two runs per inning in five innings of play.
The Regals were unable to catch up to the Poets’ lead, ending the game with a 12-7 loss.
Despite the Regals’ loss in the first game, they found bright spots in their play—especially junior third basemen Kendall Marinesi, who demonstrated impressive glove work, including a diving catch to save a run.
“It’s nice knowing that [my teammates] believe in me to make the plays. I try to always stay relaxed, and they always help me with that too – whether it is yelling inside jokes or making faces and making me laugh,” Marinesi said.
In the second game, Cal Lutheran was able to turn it around applying the pressure with Marinesi hitting a 2-run home run in the first inning.
However, the offense from both teams went stale through the middle innings as no runs were scored until the final inning of play.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Regals had their backs against the wall after giving up the lead in the top of the seventh.
With no outs and down 6-3, the Regals has two clutch doubles from Chatman and Marinesi. Senior catcher Rachel Barker kept the inning alive with a single down the left field line, scoring a run and ultimately tying the game at 6-6, setting the stage for Slabaugh.
With 2 outs and runners on second and third, Slabaugh delivered the final punch, knocking in the winning run with a single up the middle to complete the comeback.
“I was definitely nervous, but I had to just stay within myself and know that I was capable of coming up clutch for my team. Just a lot of self-talk and deep breaths throughout the at bat,” Slabaugh said.
The Regals look to make their way back into the playoff picture, despite a pair of losses against Manhattanville on Sunday, March 10. Only a quarter into the season, the Regals are 3-7.
“To make a run for the playoffs, we need to be a little more consistent. We also need to have all three dimensions of softball pitching, catching, defense and hitting to come together. Once that happens, I truly believe we will be unstoppable,” Marinesi said.