CMS Softball Swings for Fences in Packed Week

Erin Alexander CM ‘20 pitches her 6th inning of the day against PP on Mar. 11 at Pomona College's Wig Beach Field. (Courtesy of CMS Athletics)Though the campuses may have been empty over spring break, the No. 2 SCIAC-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s softball team (7-11, 5-3 SCIAC) wasted no time getting some important game experience. In total, the Athenas played double-headers against not one, not two, but five different teams.

CMS kicked off the week with a fierce Claremont Colleges battle against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens at Wig Beach Field on Saturday, March 11. With the sun blazing by the mid-morning, CMS took game one against its P-P rivals 4-2. The Athenas’ three-run rally in the fourth inning also boosted their game, with a walk from Carly Roleder CM ’18 and RBI singles from Chloe Amarilla CM ’19 and Briana Halle CM ’18. CMS starting pitcher Anna Gurr CM ’18 threw seven solid innings in game one to hand the Athenas a 4-2 win.

But the Sagehens came roaring back that afternoon. P-P immediately got the ball rolling in the first, scoring four runs to start the game. Following the shaky start, Alexander delivered five impressive shutout innings for the Athenas. Although a single from Marissa Valdovinos SC ’20 brought the Athenas two runs in the seventh, P-P’s early rally got the best of CMS. Rodarte held down the fort for P-P, pitching seven innings and giving up no earned runs to the Athenas. The score of the first game flipped, handing P-P a 4-2 win over CMS.

With little time to recover from the intense series, the Athenas embarked on a marathon of eight games between Mar. 14 and 18. On Tuesday, they squared off against the No. 1 NCAA Division III college in the country, the Berry College Vikings (21-1, 6-0 SAA). Coming into the series, the Vikings, who traveled all the way from northwest Georgia, boasted a squeaky-clean 18-0 record. But the Athenas were ready to rally.

The series started with five strong innings from Gurr and two from Erin Alexander CM ’20 for CMS. Despite their solid performances, three costly defensive errors from the Athenas’ in the top of the first handed Berry two runs right off the bat. The Vikings scored a third and final run to seal the deal in the top of the third.

Although Berry took game one 3-0 off two unearned runs, CMS put up the ultimate defensive fight to end the Vikings’ perfect streak. Berry struck first in game two and put its only run of the game in the top of the fourth. With the scorching sun beating down in Claremont, the Athenas were hungry for redemption, and went to work at the plate.

Reeve Grobecker CM ’19 delivered big for CMS in the bottom of the fifth with a killer bunt that sent Chloe Rodman CM ’18 to second. Though a walk from Valdovinos loaded the bases, Berry took a fielder’s choice and threw Rodman out at home. With bases loaded and two outs, a wild pitch from Berry’s ace Marie Collop brought Grobecker home to even the score 1-1.

After seven masterful innings from Gurr, CMS entered the seventh and final inning of the game 1-1. But the Athenas refused to end the game in a tie, and were determined to get another rally going. After Grobecker walked, Valdovinos and Amarilla reached the bases off back-to-back fielding errors. With just one out and bases loaded, Ande Troutman CM ’19 came in to pinch hit for Alison Jue SC ’20. She delivered big and hit a monster single to right field which drove Grobecker home and brought the Athenas arguably their biggest win of the season.

The Athenas also hosted the Denison University Big Red (7-5, 0-0 Conf.) from Granville, Ohio, on March 15, and the Ithaca College Bombers (6-4, 0-0 Conf.) from New York two days later. CMS took two tough losses to both Denison (8-1, 5-2, respectively), and Ithaca (5-0, 6-3). But the Athenas took these series in stride, and bounced back with a split series against the Whittier College Poets (10-12, 6-4 SCIAC) on Saturday, March 18.

Five consecutive singles from Valdovino, Grobecker, Amarilla, Troutman, and Alexa Heydenberk CM '17 in the bottom of the third gave the Athenas the offensive edge over the Poets. A superb outing from Gurr handed the Athenas a 3-0 victory, bringing Gurr her sixth win of the season.

Despite a 5-1 loss in game two against the Poets, CMS’ week reflected undeniable progress for the rest of the season. A huge win against their Claremont arch rivals and a victory over the top-ranked team in the country serve as representations of the Athenas’ talent and unity.

After a whirlwind of a week, the Athenas are ready for four more games this weekend. They will face some tough SCIAC competition against the University of Redlands Bulldogs (7-13, 4-6 SCIAC) on Friday, March 24, and California Lutheran University Kingsmen on Saturday, March 25. Big wins this weekend would help CMS overtake University of La Verne in the SCIAC rankings.