LA VERNE, Calif. — Elisa Ponce fired the first shutout of her La Verne career to lead the Leopards to a 2-0 win over Ithaca in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday at Campus West.
Ponce scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out four batters to cruise to the win. She didn't run into any trouble until the sixth inning when the Bombers put two runners on with two outs. But she caught Abby Shields looking at an inside fastball to escape the jam and retired the side in order in the top of the seventh.
The Leopards were actually outhit 4-2 but both of their hits were solo home runs. Alexis Schiff put the Leopards on the board in the first inning with a shot to straightaway center and Katheryn Navarro gave Ponce some breathing room with a homer of her own in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Shields, who was making her collegiate debut in the circle, was the hard-luck loser after giving up just the lone hit to Schiff in the first inning.
The Leopards lost the second game 6-4.
An error proved to be the difference. Ithaca opened the scoring in the top of the third on an RBI single by Nikkey Skuraton and had runners on second and third after a wild pitch. The Leopards then caught Hannah Peters in a rundown between third and home off a soft grounder. The runners behind Peters both advanced, leaving Peters with nowhere to go but home. But in a rush, Leopards catcher Melissa Garcia threw to third and overshot her target, allowing all three runners to score and the Bombers grabbed a 4-0 lead.
The Leopards responded immediately in the bottom of the third on back-to-back doubles by Condon and Schiff to cut the deficit to 4-2.
La Verne had on last chance to rally in the bottom of the seventh. After a leadoff out, Rachel Ogata was hit by a pitch and Carly Condon drew a walk, bringing up the tying run in Schiff. The Bombers intentionally walked the nation's home run leader to load the bases. Justice Borden drew a walk to cut the deficit to 6-4 but that was all La Verne would manage.
Haley Congdon (2-1) picked up the win after going 6.1 innings and Emily Holden got the final two outs to pick up the save.
The Leopards are back in action on Saturday at Chapman.