THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A strong start to the 2014 softball season is what the Regals were after today at Hutton Field and the Cal Lutheran squad combined to produce just that, sweeping past Whitworth by 4-1 and 6-5 margins behind a pair of complete games and timely hitting.
While one team was taking the field for the first time this spring, the other had eight games under their belts entering the day. In front of a solid crowd, CLU gave the fans an opening day to remember as all 14 players on the Regals’ roster saw time on the diamond in the doubleheader.
Tremendous pitching performances from Shonna Christianson and Courtney Sooy set the tone right away in each contest and early run support aided their respective efforts. Christianson, who also led off for CLU in game one, tossed all 7.0 innings striking out five, before Sooy followed suit with 10 strike outs that included retiring the side in order by way of the K in the final frame of her collegiate debut.
The defense turned in a number of standout plays today as well. The left side of the infield was busy as Liz Mertel and Stephanie Martello combined for 11 putouts and seven assists. The only double play of the day came from Mertel, who stepped on third on a hard hit ground ball that she fired across the diamond to Blake Lewis in the top of the sixth in game one. Martello put her glove to work in the second game, ending the second inning on a phenomenal over the shoulder catch that halted a Whitworth rally as the inning ended with the bases loaded.
Offensively, the Regals tallied 13 hits with a trio for extra bases. The senior duo of Danika Green and Kayla Sakamoto combined for six hits, with a double apiece, four RBIs and a pair of runs. Eight different players notched at least one hit and Martello was 2-for-6 in her first game for CLU. Lewis had two hits on the day as well, going 2-for-2 in the opener. Cal Lutheran was also perfect on the bases, swiping three bases.
To start off the day, CLU broke through in the third inning on an RBI double from Sakamoto, which drove in Christianson,who reached on a fielder’s choice, representing the first run of the season for the Regals. Cal Lutheran went on to use a three-run fourth inning to regain the lead after Whitworth evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning Lewisdrove in Sakamoto and Sooy, who was pinch running for Andrea Brackpool after drawing a walk, on a line drive single, providing the ultimate game winning run.
In game two, the Regals sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning alone, scoring six runs on three hits, a hit batter, a walk and a Pirates error. With the bases loaded, Martello drove in the first two runs of her CLU career and after Lewis worked a walk Green stroked a bases clearing double to left field giving the home team a comfortable 6-0 lead.
Whitworth scored once in the second on an RBI double from Sacha Clow and nearly tied things in the fifth. Designated player Taylor Gilbert drove in Makenzie Hope with a single and pinch hitter Peyton McMahon went on to notch a bases loaded double to the left centerfield gap, getting WU within one. Sooy remained grounded and dug deep to get a called strikeout, ending the threat.
The Pirates made some noise in the sixth as well, but Katelyn Downing threw out a runner at third base, from left field, for the second out and stole the wind from Whitworth’s sails. Sooy would retire the final four batters she faced on strikeouts.
Both Kaity Carter and Amanda Lewis entered as pinch runners in her first CLU contest today.
Cal Lutheran (2-0) will be on the road for the next four games of the season. In San Diego the Regals will face San Diego Christian and St. Katherine College for a pair apiece. First pitch against SDC is set for Friday, Feb. 7 at 1:00 p.m.