Rivalry Thrills, Ends in Split

Rivalry games are supposed to be thrilling, and Saturday’s doubleheader between the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
(23-12, 18-8 SCIAC) and Pomona-Pitzer (8-27, 5-19 SCIAC) softball teams did not disappoint. With nearly 300 fans in attendance to support both sides of the rivalry, P-P narrowly snagged an
extra-innings 2-1 win in game one, while CMS countered in game two with a decisive
8-0 shutout victory.

The doubleheader featured solid play from both teams, albeit at different times. P-P head coach
JoAnne Ferguson cited defense, particularly from shortstop Lauren Boden PO ’14, as a key factor in the win.

“Lauren had
one of her best defensive performances of her career here at Pomona-Pitzer,” Ferguson said. “She made some outstanding plays at shortstop and was calm and collected in
pressure situations.” 

Boden was not the only standout Sagehen of
the day, as Ferguson felt that center fielder Ashley Morello PO ’15 stood out as well.

“Ashley Morello covered
a lot of ground in CMS’ deep outfield, making a few long fly balls look
easy,”  Ferguson said.

At the plate, the Sagehens got key hits from
Susanne Boden PO ’16, who hit three-for-four with one double, and Meagan Tokunaga PO
’15, whose crucial RBI single in the eighth inning put the Sagehens up 2-1.

After pulling ahead, the Sagehens
fought hard to keep the Athenas at bay through the bottom of the inning. The Athenas
loaded the bases and remained a major scoring threat until the final outs were
recorded on a strikeout and a grounder to shortstop.

Ferguson called pitcher Bianca Cockrell PO ’17 another standout, noting how she came through exactly when the Sagehens needed her.

“Bianca Cockrell was steady on the mound the entire
game and displayed outstanding composure,” Ferguson said. “I was extremely proud of
the team’s focus, competitiveness, and toughness in game one.”

While the underdog Sagehens made a strong point in game one, it was CMS’ time to
shine in game two as the Athenas cruised to a six-inning run-rule victory
behind the dominant pitching of Kaylilani Minami CM ’17. In all six innings
of game two, the first-year shut out the Sagehens and allowed just two hits while walking one.

“[Minami] came out with fire and
passion in her eyes, ready to do anything she needed to spark us on defense and
motivate us on offense,” Athenas catcher Morgan Beltz CM ’14 said. “We fed off her dominant performance, especially her killer
change-up, and put up the run support she needed to get the win.”

P-P’s coach Ferguson agreed, noting that Minami “did a great job of keeping our bats quiet.” Ferguson
also added that the Sagehens were not as sharp in game two.

“Unfortunately, we made too
many mistakes defensively in game two,” Ferguson said. “We walked too many batters and allowed
too many bunt base hits.”

In game two, the Sagehens committed three
errors, which enabled their opponents to score five runs. On seven hits, only
three of CMS’ eight total runs were earned.

Beltz praised the Athenas’ ability to
turn the tables in their favor following the tough loss they took to begin the
day, which, as their final home game before the SCIAC tournament,
was also their Senior Day.

“After the disappointment of game
one, we came together as a team and gave ourselves 10 seconds to be angry and
upset before we had to flush it and turn our focus on game two,” Beltz said. “We
knew that the day wasn’t over, and game two now needed all of our attention to
pull off a win. There were a
lot of emotions with it being Senior Day, but we had to put all that aside and
get back to business.”

Just one
more weekend remains of SCIAC regular season play. Then, the four teams with
the best records advance to the SCIAC tournament on May 2-3. Currently second
in the conference, CMS is poised to be a competitive force in the tournament,
which will be held on the home field of the highest-seeded team, currently the University of Redlands. Meanwhile, P-P is simply making a point of finishing its season on a strong note.

“This week, we are focusing hard on our bunt defense and
situational hitting to prepare for our last remaining weekend of play,”
Ferguson said. “The team remains focused on making improvements this week
to end the season playing our best softball yet and setting the right tone for
next year.”

For their
final outing, the Sagehens will host Occidental College (5-31, 2-22 SCIAC) today, April 25 and the University of La Verne (18-20, 12-14 SCIAC) tomorrow, April 26. CMS will travel
to Occidental College tomorrow.

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