What exactly goes through the mind of a softball player during her first official college series? For Abigail Metsch SC ’19, it was I’m gonna hit a home run now! After losing 11-4 to Vanguard University (3-3) in a morning match on Feb. 6th, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team (1-1, 0-0 SCIAC) was hungry for redemption, and gave Metsch an opportunity at the plate to lead her team to their first victory of the season. Down 1-0, with Tara Robinson CM ’16 on second base and one out in the bottom of the sixth, Metsch needed to put CMS on the board.
Facing possibly her last strike, Metsch knew the stakes were high.
“I really wanted to make an impact on my teammates,” said Metsch. Indeed, Metsch changed the game with one swing of the bat: She hit a rocket to left field to take a 2-1 lead over Vanguard, and earned a home-run in her first at-bat in her college career. Her hit sealed the deal for the Athenas, and gave the softball team its first win of the season 2-1.
In its morning match against Vanguard University, CMS had held the lead 2-0, with four shutout innings pitched by Anna Gurr CM ’18. A sacrifice fly from Metsch drove in Katie Savard CM ’16 in the fourth inning, giving the Athenas the first run of the game. Later in the inning, a single from Briana Halle CM ’18 allowed catcher Carlene Roberts CM ’16 to score, putting CMS up 2-0. However, Vanguard came roaring back, scoring seven runs in the top of the fifth with triples from Kaitlin Estes Van ’18 and Payton Ross Van ’18. Though they scored an additional two runs the next inning, the Athenas came up short to Vanguard in an 11-4 finish.
Despite a disappointing loss, CMS refused to give up, and performed with a newfound energy and precision in their second match against Vanguard. With masterful pitching from Halle and five shutout innings from Gurr, Vanguard’s offense shut down. Metsch’s sixth inning home-run sealed the victory for the Athenas, and validated the intense work CMS had done in preparation for the match.
With eight first-years added to the roster this season, the Athenas have quickly found their rhythm by training diligently for each match and supporting and encouraging each other on every play. Leadership from returning players has helped these new players adjust to college softball’s faster pace. Thanks to a solid defensive foundation from catcher Carlene Roberts CM ’16 and infielder Savard, the team is looking to minimize its errors in pursuit of a SCIAC title. Robinson serves as a critical part of the CMS offense: Because of her speed and agility, Metsch said that “if Robinson gets on base, we’re going to score that inning.”
Although Metsch was ecstatic with her individual performance, she emphasized the importance of camaraderie and teamwork for the softball team. “This is just the most supportive group of girls,” she said following the victory. “Nobody is selfish on this team; everyone is rooting for each other. Everyone has each other’s backs; everyone wants to succeed. Before every single game, we get in a circle and close our eyes and envision every single person on the team being successful that game. I think it helps that everyone plays for each other, rather than [for] themselves.”
The Athenas are excited to take on Chapman University on their home field on Friday, Feb. 12th, and host Pacific University Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 13th. However, Metsch cannot help but look optimistically toward the future. “Our goal is to win SCIAC, so I think we’re looking forward to every single conference game we have. We want to sweep Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens this year; that’s our main goal because we’ve never done that before. I’m personally looking forward to that game because it’s our biggest rivalry.”
The Athenas first play Pomona-Pitzer in a double-header on March 5th. Until then, they strive for precision and plan to dominate their opponents, one game at a time.