LOS ANGELES – With the score tied at two and a runner on first in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jerika Barron (Half Moon Bay) stepped into the batter's box composed, but knowing she had a great opportunity.
"I was mainly just trying to get a solid hit down and move our runners over," said the junior Oxy shortstop.
She got ahold of a low-and-away fastball, driving it to the left field gap and setting Patrica Phillimeano (Roseville) in motion from first base. Phillimeano rounded second, then third and finally crossed the plate as the throw was cut off, for the game-winning run in a 3-2 win over Pacific in the first game of an opening-day doubleheader at Bell Field on Sunday.
"I was just really excited that we got another win," said Barron, adding that she and the rest of the team are feeling much better this year with three wins already in the first two days of the season. "This team feels really close and it felt like a really good team win. … So I was happy I came through."
Barron, who was 3 for 3 in the game and finished the day 4 for 7 with three RBIs, was responsible for Oxy's first run of the game too. After her team fell behind 1-0 in the fifth inning, Barron drilled a shot to deep center that one-hopped into the fence, bringing home Kathleen McLain (Washington, D.C.). Barron later crossed the plate herself when Mariah Montgomery (Riverside) grounded into a fielder's choice.
"Jerika played solid defense today and came through with clutch hitting," said Occidental head coach Ali Haehnel. "As a team, we maintained intensity throughout, made good adjustments at the plate and backed our pitchers up on defense."
Brittany Vacura (Elk Grove) earned the win in Game 1, striking out eight batters while giving up just two earned runs in six innings pitched. Amber Garland (Torrance) closed the game with a scoreless seventh.
"We got another solid start out of Brittany. She got ahead, she dominated hitters and that really sparked our defense," Haehnel said. "I'm also proud of the way (Garland) came in and closed out the game. We're really going to rely on her ability to throw hitters off balance this year."
Megan Winans hit a home run in each game for Pacific, the first a solo shot that tied Game 1 in the sixth. The Boxers' first run came in the fifth when Emmie Moser singled in Quierena Natividad.
The Tigers were on the other end of a big hit in a 7-6 loss in Game 2.
Oxy went up five runs with a big second inning. Meghan Luera (Pasadena) crossed the plate on a passed ball following a triple, Phillimeano and Barron singled in runs, and Ali Goldberg (Los Altos) hit a two-run triple.
The Boxers tied the score at five with a run in the third and a four-run fourth. Then Jacqueline Shimamoto (Santa Clarita) hit a solo home run to put Oxy back up 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth.
But in the top of the seventh, Winans hit her second homer of the day to deep center, scoring two runs to give the Boxers the win.
"We jumped on top of them early," Haehnel said. "We just didn't continue to challenge them on offense. They're a good hitting team and they took advantage."
The Tigers are back in action next weekend, hosting Chapman in a doubleheader for the team's SCIAC opener. First game is set for Saturday at noon.