Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) softball welcomed Williams to the wild West Coast this past Friday for two pitchers’ duels in a pair of low-scoring matchups with the Hens.
The Sagehens hosted Williams College last Friday in the Ephs’ second stop of their SCIAC spring tour. P-P split the double header, winning the first game 2-0 but dropping the second 3-0 in 10 innings.
Pitcher Devin Waddell PO ’25 took the rubber in game one and showed dominance from start to finish. Waddell allowed only two hits across seven innings in a complete game shutout, striking out four Ephs along the way.
“My go to [pitch] is usually my curveball,” Waddell said. “I love to go in on righties and just try to challenge them and jam them. I think that’s what was giving me [the] most success on Friday.”
This performance brought Waddell’s season earned run average (ERA) down to a conference-best 1.27. It was her sixth complete game of the season and third shutout. Waddell’s four strikeouts brought her season total to 43, far exceeding her freshman year total of 26.
Waddell explained her improvements in the pitching circle are a result of strides made in mentality.
“This [past] summer and fall, I really prioritized working [on] my mental game,” Waddell said. “I think this year I’ve been really able to trust myself more and fine tune some mental skills that I didn’t prioritize as much last year.”
The seven-inning shutout had no shortage of defensive highlights, and Waddell credited shortstop Bella Carreon’s PO ’25 stellar defense for her confidence as a pitcher.
“Knowing my defense can field basically anything and make those ESPN plays … gives me a lot of confidence out there to trust my stuff and get after it,” Waddell said.
In Carreon’s 2022 season, she posted a .995 fielding percentage in 32 games. This year, she’s continued that stellar play at shortstop, boasting a .950 percentage thus far.
On the other side of the ball, the Hens struck early in the bottom half of the first inning. A leadoff single from Kylie Liu PO ’26 followed by a double from Waddell set up runners on second and third base for Lauren Ziment PO ’24, who drove them both in with a single to center field.
“I was just looking to put something hard and in play,” said Ziment. “I fouled off quite a few pitches before [the base hit]. She was throwing a rise ball … [and] I was looking to make the adjustment and stay on top of something and see if I could get [the] barrel on the ball … We’re all really aggressive on the base path, and we’ve found success in just putting the ball hard and playing challenging the opponent’s defense.”
Offensively, that would be all the Hens would need for the victory, as Waddell’s seven scoreless frames led them to the 2-0 win.
Despite another lights out pitching performance, this time from Erika Rivera PZ ’24, the bats would fall quiet for P-P in game two. Rivera took a shutout into the 10th inning before ultimately giving in to the Williams offense.
The game began with a golden opportunity for the Sagehens, as three consecutive walks loaded the bases with no outs. However, three sequential strikeouts squandered what would turn out to be their best chance to score. Over the remainder of the game, the Hens managed to add only three more baserunners, including just one hit, a Waddell single in the third inning.
P-P saw the lack of offensive production, though frustrating, as a learning opportunity moving forward in their season.
“[Williams starting pitcher Sadie Leonard] came out chucking a fantastic rise ball against us in that second game,” Ziment said. “It’s a good learning opportunity to see a pitcher that can throw it as hard as she can and can have such command over the ball. It’s only going to make us better.”
A scoreless tie brought the game into the 10th inning when an error during a sacrifice bunt, and two-run home run pulled Williams ahead 3-0. That would be all the Ephs needed as all three Hens who came to the plate in the bottom half of the inning would strike out.
The two-game set against Williams offered the Hens a quick break in SCIAC matchups ahead of a month of solely conference opponents.
“Playing Williams is a great opportunity to have competition against an East Coast school,” Waddell said. “There aren’t many Division III conferences out here on the West Coast, so getting to compete against a competitive roster … was really a great opportunity for us.”
Carreon believes that the Hens will continue to see success when they don’t waste any time in their games.
“The key thing for us right now is just getting after it early,” Carreon said. “If we get on them with our offense early enough, it’ll carry through the rest of the series.”
The series split brings P-P’s overall record to 11-9. The Sagehens will look to improve on their conference record of 2-1 in a three game set against Redlands consisting of an away game at 3 p.m. on Friday and a Saturday double-header at home.