On a gorgeous, cloudless afternoon, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team (12-12, 10-4 SCIAC) rained on the Chapman University Panthers (13-11, 7-7 SCIAC).
In their second consecutive Saturday sweep, the Athenas out-hit the Panthers 15-7, and were bolstered by nine phenomenal innings from pitcher Anna Gurr CM ’18, who struck-out 11 batters over the course of her seven innings as the starter in the first game, and two innings of relief in game two.
“Anna’s an elite college pitcher,” head coach Betsy Hipple said. “She tends to pitch a complete game, and the other game of a double-header you try to cobble together other pitchers. When she comes in as a relief pitcher, she’s almost more dominant than when she pitches the complete game. To some degree, there’s no pacing.”
Hipple also noted that the coaches are not worried about overusing Gurr in terms of injury potential, but more concerned with how much other teams get to see her in action. The coaches want other teams to still be surprised by her pitches in the postseason.
Also of note was a stellar defensive performance from the CMS outfielders. Sophomore centerfielder Ande Troutman CM ’19 made successful plays on five balls hit to her throughout the day, and leftfielder Alexa Haydenberk CM ’17 made a stellar diving catch on-the-run.
“Every game we are given opportunities to execute, and someone new pulls through when we need her most,” Troutman said.
In both games, the Athenas jumped on Chapman pitchers early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Additionally, they twice capitalized on Panther errors with some heads-up base running to bring players home from third.
“In the second game, the ability to answer their two-run advantage in the first inning was huge and speaks to the resilience and fight that this team has been developing this season,” Gurr said.
This resilience and consistency was the story of the weekend for the CMS squad, who won both games 4-2.
Although softball has individual aspects like batting, Hipple said that the sport is also profoundly team-oriented.
“You can just feel it when everyone is feeling good,” she said. “When people are playing ‘me-first,’ we’re not going to have the kind of success that I think this team is capable of having.”
The season’s motto, “Team before me,” is palpable both on and off the field. Every player contributes to the wins, and during the occasional slump, players rely on each other to turn things around.
Hipple also said that there is a lot to look forward to in the remainder of the season: “It’s taken us a while to become who we’re becoming. I don’t think we’re there yet — we’re still in the process — but I think we’re getting closer.”
The Athenas will continue the process with twelve games in three weekends, beginning with the University of Redlands Bulldogs at home on Friday, April 7.