Athenas’ Strong Pitching Looks to be Bright Spot for Season

On Feb. 7, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (1-1) softball team began its
2015 season with a double header against NAIA foe Vanguard University (5-1), bringing home a win
and a loss to split the series.

In
the weeks prior to their opening game, the team of twenty practiced
persistently in anticipation for the season.

“Our
preparation focuses on diligent repetition of the fundamental building blocks
of our game,” coach Betsy Hipple said. “We build our strategic approach layer
by layer. We grow our cohesiveness by way of hard work, having fun and
appreciating the importance of every role on the team, particularly the noble,
selfless contributions.”

Even
though the Vanguard Lions had been practicing as a team since the fall, CMS handed them
their first loss of the 2015 season in the second game played.

“It
was an outstanding start to our season,” Hipple said. “We played near-flawless
defense, led by our pitching staff. We hit the ball very hard with lots of superb
quality of contact. We set goals for the double-header and smashed them out of
the park.”

Although
the first game ended 2-1 in favor of Vanguard, the Athenas fought resiliently
through seven innings.

“Our strengths this year are our depth of
talent and excitement for the season,” first basewoman Katie Savard CM ’16 said. “The returning team members learned a lot from
the previous year and so far have brought confidence and determination to this
season.”

Pitcher
Anna Gurr CM ’18 had a spectacular collegiate debut, striking out five Vanguard
players and only allowing one earned run through six innings. Gurr
is one of eight players joining the CMS team this year.

“These
student athletes represent one of the strongest incoming classes ever,” Hipple
said. “In just a few weeks of training they have emerged as a super talented, energetic,
highly coachable and exciting group.”

Bouncing
back after the loss, the Athenas quickly readjusted in the second game to pull
out a 4-1 victory. They put their first run on the board in the second inning
when left-fielder Alexa Heydenberk CM ’17 brought in Savard on a line drive just
out of reach of Vanguard’s second basewoman.

The
Athenas scored two more runs during the third inning when 2B Brooklyn Robinson
SC ’16 and Savard each snagged an RBI to push the Athenas’ lead to 3-1.

In
her inaugural collegiate outing on the mound, pitcher Briana Halle CM ’18
recorded the win for the Athenas, ending the double-header on a triumphant
note.

This
past weekend was just the beginning for the Athenas. Their win against Vanguard
has only encouraged them to push themselves farther in the season to come.

“Our
goal every season is to finish further than we did the previous year,” Savard
said. “Last year we finished a few outs short of the World Series. This year we
seek to go one game further and be a formidable opponent in the World Series
tournament.”

The
Athenas will suit up again Feb. 14 when they take on Occidental
College (1-1) in their first home game of the 2015 season. Their diligence and dedication will not change despite recent success. 

“Our
preparation stays consistent and is not based on the upcoming opponent,” Hipple said. “We
compete against our own high standards. In any day’s training,
our focus is on ourselves, our attention to detail, our progression in skill
refinement and our execution of complex strategies.”

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