Softball pitches Hamline first lost of the season

Occidental Softball's next game is at home against Whittier College on Saturday, March 31st at 12 PM. Taken at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2018. Molly Kauffman/The Occidental

Occidental’s softball team split a doubleheader 1–1 against the previously undefeated Hamline University from Minnesota to improve their season’s record to 6–12–1 March 16. The Tigers’ 4–3 victory over Hamline in the second game was Hamline’s first loss of their season, leaving them with a 5–1 record.

Alison Haehnel, head softball coach, said that while the game against Hamline did not count for conference standing, it allowed her to try players at different positions and the team to compete with less pressure.

After losing the first game 7–0, Alexis Funaki (junior), Samantha Yee (senior) and Mackensie Priley (senior) scored three of the Tigers’ four runs in the second inning to eventually win the second game 4–3. Funaki and Natalie Glover (junior) went two for three with a run batted in (RBI) in the game, with Funaki hitting a double. Dallas Boyce (senior) pitched four innings giving up one earned run with three strikeouts.

Samantha Yee (senior) aligns a safety net for the pitching machine at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2018. Molly Kauffman/The Occidental

“During practice, we’ve been working on our confidence while up to bat which really shined through in the second inning,” Priley said via email.

Haehnel said that during the second inning, the team executed their bunts and achieved the necessary hits when there were baserunners. According to her, the only difference between game one and two was the execution of their game plan and process.

“We’ve been doing things the right way. We’ve been trusting the process, really preparing well, and haven’t necessarily had the outcomes we’ve wanted,” Haehnel said. “We had a ton of quality at-bats that inning, and that means we are seeing a lot of pitches. The more pitches you see, the more you learn the pitcher, the easier it is to hit.”

According to Funaki, the team began the second game with higher energy and the goal to score frequently during the game.

“[It] is a goal of ours, to score early and score often and ‘win the inning,’ which means scoring more than the other team every inning, and if we focus on winning the inning, winning everything we can, that will contribute [to] a win at the end,” Funaki said.

Glover said that when the team is cheering and has high energy, she wants to support the team in her at-bat.

“When I’m really hyped up and excited, it pushes me to do better for my team. If I hear them cheering me on, I want to do really good for them so it just helps me focus up to bat, focus on the task at hand and try and be the best situational hitter I can be,” Glover said.

According to Haehnel, the rain limited the team’s ability to practice on the field over spring break but the team was able to bond and focus on their goals instead.

“They’ve been really detail oriented, really committed to fine-tuning things and controlling the controllables,” Haehnel said.

Haehnel said the team worked well as a group and that was something they have been practicing every day.

“The team did a really good job of focusing on the process, supporting one another and backing our pitchers up,” Haehnel said. “While not one person was the hero of the day, I would say that all 19 people contributed to a very good game.”

From left, Mel Ginther (first year), Skylar Wuelfing (first year) and Stephanie Stamnes (junior), practice batting form at Occidental College in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2018. Molly Kauffman/The Occidental

According to Haehnel, the team’s goal for the season is to make the SCIAC tournament. In order to advance, the Tigers must be top four in the conference and have a winning record. To achieve their goal, Haehnel said it is important to trust their team’s process.

“For us [the process] is focus, it’s intensity, we break every ask of the game into a process,” Haehnel said. “For example, we focus on quality at-bats as opposed to hits, so we’re focusing on seeing a lot of pitches working the count, hitting the ball hard on the ground and we know that if we persistently do those things we will make a good outcome, which will eventually lead to more runs than the other team.”

According to Funaki, the Tigers are successful in games when they are communicating, cheering and continuing to score.

“If you’ve been to a game we’re always cheering, like, constantly, and I think that’s a huge element to when we do succeed. Everyone’s into the game cheering, excited and being loud,” Funaki said.

The Tigers’ next home game is March 31 against Whittier College.