Athenas Strike Back, The Offense Awakens

In a jam-packed weekend for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
softball team, the Athenas first engaged in a tough battle with the SCIAC-leading Whittier College Poets and then used that experience to rake
in two victories the next day against Occidental College. 

CMS (18-8, 12-6 SCIAC) first took
on Whittier (18-10, 12-4 SCIAC) in an attempt to dethrone the Poets from
their perch atop the SCIAC, but after suffering two losses in their Friday
doubleheader, the Athenas were unable to end the Poets’ reign.

In the
first game, a 7-0 loss, Whittier pitcher Samantha Blum thoroughly stifled the
Athenas’ bats to a complete-game shutout for the Poets. Center fielder
Tara Robinson CM ’16, who smacked a single in the fourth inning, was the only
Athena to collect a hit.

“I don’t
think we played to our full potential,” catcher Carley Roberts CM ’16 said. “We saw some solid pitching, and I don’t think we did a good job
making the proper adjustments in time.”

However, the Athenas
livened up in the second half of the doubleheader and scored all three
of their runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. Robinson once again
served as a spark plug for the Athena offense by sending a single up the middle,
which left fielder Alexa Heydenberk CM ’17 followed up with a walk to put two
runners on base.

The Athenas were then able to feed off of this
momentum to bring in three runs after designated player Carly Roleder CM ’18 singled,
right fielder Melanie Carlson CM ’17 drew a walk and catcher Chloe Rodman CM
’18 singled in quick succession. The lead was short-lived, though, as Whittier
eventually prevailed 5-3.

“We were
able to make some contact, string some hits together and that was the
difference,” outfielder Janelle Shiozaki CM ’16 said. “When a couple of us
start hitting, it usually happens that everyone else gets some hits as well and
is extra motivated to move their teammates around the bases.”

Facing off
against tough pitching, Roberts explained what adjustments the Athenas planned
to make.

“The main
adjustment is going to be looking for that outside pitch and being more aggressive,”
she explained. “[The Whittier pitcher] was pitching a lot of strikes early
in the count, and I think that’s something we’re going to need to attack. Coach always says put a towel on the plate
and look for a pitch you know you can hit, even if it’s not necessarily a
textbook strike.”

CMS certainly
rebounded on Saturday and laid the smackdown on Occidental College (6-20, 3-13)
to snag two wins and close out the weekend’s slate on a positive note. In the first game, Robinson once again swung the bat
well and led the team with three hits, followed by second baseman Sarah Witney CM ’18 with two to help CMS claim the 11-2 victory.

“We came
out swinging a lot more and were much more aggressive at the plate, and I think
that proved to be beneficial for us,” Roberts said. “I think our hitting became
more contagious; we were swinging at better pitches, and we were going up with a
better approach to our at bats.”

The Athenas also
benefited from another strong performance by pitcher Anna Gurr CM ’18, who only
allowed two hits in four innings to capture her eighth win on the season. Gurr also leads the team with a remarkable 74
innings pitched.

“Anna is a
lefty, so that’s a little different for opposing teams,” Roberts said.
“That means hitters are seeing the ball coming from the other side. Also, I’d
say her curveball and screwball are her best pitches.”

Although the
last of their four games proved to be much tighter, the Athenas still prevailed 3-1. Pitchers
Andrea Jewett CM ’17 and Molly Rubidoux CM ’16 only allowed one hit,
which proved to be vital in the low-scoring affair.

“Andrea [Jewett] has
a sick curveball with a really strong break, so we usually work that curveball
over and over and hitters can’t make the adjustments, or, if they do, they end up
just flaring out to right field,” Roberts said. 

The Athenas
next take the field April 10 for another doubleheader at Whittier starting at 2 p.m.

In
preparation for the Athenas’ rematch against the Poets, Roberts broke down the game plan with the Poets and how the team plans to alter its approach.

“[The Whittier pitcher] was going away a lot against both our righties and lefties,” she said.
“So this week in practice we’ve been focusing
a lot on going opposite field and hitting the ball where it is pitched.  Also, we want to go out there with more
confidence and swag and play a little lighter.” 

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