Offensive slump continues for Santa Clara
The Santa Clara
April 19, 2017
Santa Clara softball lost two of three against Loyola Marymount University in their second slate of West Coast Conference action.
Despite dropping more than 60 percent of their games this year, the Broncos initially started strong in the WCC after winning the first conference series of the year against Saint Mary’s on April 8 and 9.
Santa Clara has struggled to score runs all year, batting a measly .249 as a team and averaging less than three runs per game. The Broncos offensive issues were once again evident against the Lion–as they could only muster one run over the three-game series.
In the first game of the doubleheader on Friday, Santa Clara started Junior Micaela Vierra, who was 5-8 on the year. Vierra had to work out of trouble early, as LMU put three runners in scoring position in the first two innings. But the Lions were unable to score. Vierra eventually conceded a run in the top of the fourth after a walk and sacrifice bunt led to an RBI single off the bat of LMU’s Lindsey Matoi. Vierra walked four but only gave up a run in her four innings of work to continue her solid form on the year.
The Broncos’ best chance to do some damage came in the fifth when an Eleni Spirakis walk loaded the bases after two singles. However, Taylor Burns struck out looking to end the inning, and Santa Clara did not threaten to score for the rest of the game.
“Our offense needs to work on our situational hitting,” said junior outfielder Ellie Fisher. “Getting the bunts down when we need to move the runners and scoring the runners in when they’re in scoring position. We just need to take more advantage on the opportunities we get to score runs.”
LMU and Santa Clara combined for eight hits total in an uneventful game. LMU’s Rachael Farrington picked up her sixth win in a complete game shutout, 1-0.
The second game of the doubleheader did not yield any more offense than the first pitcher’s duel. In the bottom half of the first inning Santa Clara managed to string together three straight two-out singles to plate a run off the bat of Kimberly Goulart, and that would be the only run the Broncos needed.
Santa Clara’s starter McCall James silenced the LMU offense, which only registered two hits, one each in the first and last innings.
“We had a great team atmosphere from the start that day which made a major impact,” James said. “The first game was a tough loss so I think we all were very fired up for the second game. We all knew we had to win.”
James struck out three and walked two in her complete game shutout which helped the Broncos take the second game of the doubleheader, 1-0.
In Saturday’s finale, Santa Clara looked to clinch their second straight WCC series. The first three innings passed without either team posing much of an offensive threat. In the bottom half of the fourth, LMU left runners on second and third against Santa Clara starter Aubree Kim who began to show signs of fatigue. After allowing a single, Kim was pulled in favor of senior Ciara Gonzales and then the floodgates opened.
Gonzales gave up a single to the first batter she faced and then a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position for LMU’s Alex Finie, who proceeded to lace a triple to right center scoring both runners. Aria Pogni did her job and grounded out to second base to push Finie across for LMU’s third run of the inning.
In the seventh inning, LMU scored four more runs to put the game beyond a doubt. LMU led the inning off with a home run off the bat of Alicia Brown and added three more off of multiple extra base hits and a single. Santa Clara finished with seven hits but stranded eight on base. The game finished 7-0 LMU.
“Pitching needs to keep us in the ballgame and keep walks to a minimum,” said Head Coach Lisa Mize. “We need to play solid defense and capitalize on our scoring opportunities. If we do these things, we have ever opportunity to finish on a high note.”
Santa Clara will look to awaken their bats this weekend series as they travel to the University of San Diego.
Ben Epstein is a senior finance major.