Pomona-Pitzer softball (7-26, 4-18 SCIAC) hit the road to face the Whittier College Poets last Saturday, April 12 and came away with an exciting two-game split. After a rally in the seventh inning of game two enabled the Poets to fend off what would have been a 3-1 Sagehen victory, it took two innings of extra play before P-P regained their lead and held on for the lone win.
“The extra-innings win against Whittier was an important victory that proves this team is capable of beating anyone in the SCIAC,” head coach JoAnne Ferguson said. “Our offense delivered timely hitting that yielded important runs, and our defense made some big plays to shut down the Poets’ offense. I was impressed with our teams’ fight and focus throughout the game and especially in the extra innings. This team doesn’t give up, and it showed last Saturday.”
The Sagehens were not as successful in the opening game, however. In game one of the doubleheader, P-P suffered a decisive 6-1 defeat. Despite scoring in the first inning, the Sagehens were unable to maintain their promising start; they did not produce another run for the remainder of game one. On the defensive end, they demonstrated the opposite pattern: After allowing the Poets to score six runs in the first two innings, P-P held their opponents scoreless throughout the rest of the game. Unfortunately, the spark came too late, as the damage had already been done.
In game two, P-P batters throughout the lineup brought a lot of intensity for the entire game, and the Sagehen offense combined for five runs over the course of the nine-inning battle. Although Whittier outhit P-P 10-8, good timing and clean defense worked in the Sagehens’ favor, and they emerged with the close victory.
The Hens started off the scoring with two outs in the top of the first inning. Aryana Yee PO ’16 singled to right field and then scored when Whittier’s outfield misplayed a drive from Susanne Boden PO ’16. Sofia Baig PO ’17 then reached base on an infield error, and Lindsay McCord PZ ’16 walked. Ashley Morello PZ ’15 followed with an RBI double that scored Baig. Quinn Sheehy PO ’17 kept things rolling and laid down a bunt that scored McCord, and P-P jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. Although P-P didn’t add any more runs in the innings that followed, it didn’t matter; aside from one run in the sixth inning, they held Whittier scoreless.
In the bottom of the seventh, however, with victory in sight for the Sagehens, Whittier made a last-minute comeback. With two outs, the Poets scored two more runs to tie the game 3-3. Fortunately for the Sagehens, their rivals’ rally ended before they could snatch the lead.
Although both teams managed to put a runner on base in the eighth inning—the first inning of tiebreaker play—neither was able to score. This changed in the ninth. P-P added two more runs to their total, beginning when Meagan Tokunaga PO ’15 led off with a double to left field. Morello then walked, advancing to second on a fielder’s choice that outed Tokunaga at third and left Yee standing on first. Next, Susanne Boden drew a walk, loading the bases for the Sagehens. Morello took advantage of a passed ball to score the first P-P run since the second inning, and Yee scored on an RBI single up the middle from Caitlyn Hynes PO ’14. In the bottom of the inning, it was three up, three down as three consecutive Poet batters hit fly balls to the outfield to end the game. The Sagehens were finally able to celebrate the victory that was nearly taken away from them.
“The team has been working hard and improving each time we go out,” Susanne Boden said. “The win at Whittier was a complete team effort … We stayed in it and fought through and were able to rally and take back the game. We try to approach each game aggressively and were successful because the whole team did what needed to be done.”
Eden Griffen PZ ’17, who threw all nine innings, was the winning pitcher for the Sagehens, her fourth win of the season. Coach Ferguson was pleased with the first-year’s performance.
“Whittier has a power-packed offense and a strong defense… [Griffen] did a great job working around their power hitters,” Ferguson said.
With only six games remaining over the next two weekends, the 2014 softball season is quickly drawing to a close. Before that, though, P-P faces rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the season’s final installment of the Sixth-Street rivalry. The Sagehens will make the walk across Sixth Street tomorrow, April 19, to challenge the Athenas (20-11, 15-7 SCIAC) in a doubleheader that begins at noon Ferguson anticipates an action-packed contest against their rivals.
“We have work to do this week to prepare for CMS this Saturday,” she said. “They are a strong team with excellent pitching and speed on the bases. Last time we met, our offense was struggling, and the CMS pitching staff did a nice job of keeping our bats quiet. Our bats are much stronger now, and we have started to gain some offensive momentum and more confidence at the plate. We are excited for the games and ready for the battle.”