Athenas’ Victory Over Willamette Provides Promise for the Season

After an impressive sweep of
Willamette University (0-6) in a doubleheader Feb. 21, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team
(5-1, 2-0 SCIAC) remains undefeated at home so far this season. The Athenas
won the first game 6-1 and went on to defeat the Bearcats 4-0 in the second half of
the doubleheader for their second shutout of the season.

“We were very happy with the team’s
performance against Willamette,” head coach Betsy Hipple said. “Holding a team
with such offensive firepower to one run in 14 innings is a great
accomplishment.”

In the
first game of the day, each batter who stepped up to the plate got a piece of
the ball, and five different Athenas put points up on the board.

The Athenas’
aggressive offensive assault started early in the first inning with a single
from second baseman Brooklyn Robinson SC ’16 and a triple by first basewoman Kate
Savard CM ’16. Left fielder Alexa Heydenberk CM ’17
led off in the bottom of the second with a double and made it home on a single by designated player Janelle Shiozaki CM ’16 that flew up the middle of the field.

The scoring continued in the bottom
of the sixth inning when right fielder Carly Roleder CM ’18 sent her second hit
of the game into right field to bring in Robinson.

Pitcher Anna Gurr CM ’18 earned her first
win of the season after only allowing one run in the first five innings, and Molly
Rubidoux CM’16 secured the final six outs to close out the game.

“Our pitching staff is performing
extremely well,” Hipple said. “We are proud of their work, their mental
toughness and their commitment to their part of our success.”

The Athenas
had a quiet start to the second game, unable to put any runs on the board. But
Roleder ignited the second inning with a line drive shot over the left field
fence. Roleder went on to go an impressive 4-5 on the day with three RBIs.

“Carly has been hitting the ball
very well all season,” Hipple said. “Her focus and discipline at the plate was
rewarded as she hit .800 on the day, including the first home run at Athena
Field since the fences were moved back three years ago.”

In addition
to playing smart and sharp offense, the Athenas put up a strong defensive
front throughout the game. 

“We did not make any mental errors
defensively,” Hipple said. “Brooklyn Robinson made a web-gem diving catch on a
hit with very little hang time. She did a full superman layout, and it was quite
spectacular.”  

In the fifth
inning, shortstop Tara Robinson beat out an infield grounder to earn her fourth hit of
the night. Third baseman Mikayla O’Neal CM ’16 then smacked a double to plate Robinson and Roleder for the final runs of the game.

With a large portion of their
season still to come, the Athenas have already proven they are a force to be
reckoned with in the conference. 

“We know what we are capable of doing well at
this early point in our season, and our focus is on executing these elements in
our game plan,” Hipple said. “We gave the team a framework to focus on, and they
have done so beautifully.”

The Athenas
attribute much of their success so far this season to their cohesive team
dynamic.

“We brought incredible energy this
past weekend against Willamette, which does not only demonstrates our attack
mentality, but also the support each one of us on the team has for [the others],”
Rubidoux said.

The Athenas travel to California Lutheran University (4-9, 4-3, SCIAC) Feb. 28, then to
California State University, San Marcos (16-3), Mar. 1, in hopes of continuing their five-game
winning streak.

“We’re focusing on continuing to
play to our own high standards,” outfielder Melanie Carlson CM ’17 said. “It
doesn’t matter what team we face; if we focus on playing the game well by doing
what we know to do, we will succeed.” 

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