Athenas reign over Cal Lutheran in opening season series to begin SCIAC competition

With a 7-5 lead heading into the sixth inning, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas seemed to be in control of the match at Cal Lutheran in their SCIAC season opener Friday, Feb. 25. 

But the Regals flipped a switch by converting 6 RBI singles in the bottom half of the frame, developing a 4-run lead heading into the seventh. The Athenas eventually fell short of a comeback and ended up suffering an 11-9 loss to open conference play.

A chance at revenge, however, came quickly in a doubleheader at home the following afternoon.

Courtesy of defensive gems thrown by starting pitchers and an offensive explosion from CMS hitters, the Athenas dethroned the Regals by scores of 5-2 and 7-1 to take their first SCIAC  series win. 

Over the weekend, pitchers Heather Shipley CM ’23 and Jade Johnson CM ’24 dominated on the mound, each throwing complete game wins while combining for seven strikeouts. On the offensive side, CMS featured a balanced attack with numerous players earning RBIs. 

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Athenas struggled to generate hits on the offensive end. After Cal Lutheran jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a pitcher’s duel game, CMS hitters struggled to get women on base, enduring a three-hit shutout through five innings.    

Moving into the bottom of the sixth inning, however, the Athenas came out swinging and strung together a series of runs to stage their comeback in the match. 

Leadoff hitter Emma Suh CM ’25 began the charge with a double down the left field line and into the corner porch, ultimately scoring off a sac fly RBI from Ellie Novagradac CM ’24. With two gone in the frame, Destiny Garcia SC ’24 produced a clutch RBI triple to keep the rally going.

Garcia later scored with an errant throw from the Cal Lutheran shortstop, while Lauren Richards CM ’22 produced a single to put two women on. Soon after, Paige Zimmerman CM ’25 followed up Garcia’s two out RBI hit with one of her own, blasting a single in short center field grass to take the lead 3-2.

With a slow windup from the Cal Lutheran pitcher, Zimmermann immediately stole second base and placed runners at second and third. Kristin LeBlanc CM ’23 then smoked a 2 RBI double down the right field line to score both runners on the basepaths, signifying the end of a 4-run two out rally. Shipley finished off the top of the seventh facing only four Regal hitters to finish the game. 

Following this decisive win, the Athenas continued to express their dominance on both sides of the ball in an even more impressive showing in the second match.

Contrary to the game before, CMS came out strong and produced runs early. After Johnson threw a clean top of the first inning, the Athenas found themselves in another two-out opportunity at the plate in the bottom half. 

With runners on first and second for CMS following two singles from Ananya Koneti CM ’22 and Garcia, Ari Livi CM ’23 placed an RBI single in short right field to score Koneti, breaking the stalemate early in the match.

Two innings later, however, the Regals responded with a solo home run, the only costly mistake Johnson had all afternoon. However, the Athenas picked her up on the offensive end by responding with two runs of their own. After Novagradac walked and Garcia produced her second single of the match, Richards smoked a two-out, 2 RBI double to take a 3-1 lead.

Continuing the rally in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Athenas tacked on three more runs following costly wild pitches and fielding errors from the Regal defense.

With CMS cruising on the defensive end, Ashleigh Adkins SC ’24 effectively put the nail in the coffin by adding on an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the final score at 7-1.

Moving forward, the Athenas look ahead to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Leadoff classic this upcoming weekend, in sight of lengthening their winning streak on the road. 

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