The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team kicked off its season with an action-packed weekend, winning two of three games Feb. 9 and 10. The Athenas defeated Lewis and Clark College 2-0 Friday, then split a double-header against 2017 SCIAC champion La Verne University.
Star pitcher and NCAA All-American Anna Gurr CM ’18 collected three strikeouts in three innings against Lewis and Clark, while Molly Spaniac CM ’21, Chloe Amarilla CM ’19, and Carly Roleder CM ‘18 all collected hits to propel CMS to victory over the Pioneers.
“The game against Lewis and Clark was a win that we wanted and needed, and it was a good way to get some of the initial nerves out of the way before facing La Verne,” Amarilla said.
On Saturday, the Athenas took on their biggest rival.
“Facing La Verne was a good way to start off the season and to experience the competitive energy of rivalry again,” Amarilla said.
While the Athenas were looking for a two-win sweep, the team was disappointed by a 5-3 loss in the first game against the Leopards.
“Everyone was a little bummed after the first loss, and it kind of fired us up to attack in the second game,” Rodeler said.
CMS turned it around with a 3-0 win as Amarilla pitched a shutout, only giving up two hits in her seven innings on the mound. Being able to come back to beat the reigning SCIAC champions while using their game two pitcher showed the Athenas’ strength, Amarilla said.
“Winning the second game showed that La Verne is a beatable team, and that we have strength in our reserves and depth,” Amarilla said.
This season, the Athenas are fielding a deep team even while heading into a rebuilding period. Gina Oaks Garcia is in her first year as head coach, and a group of first-years make up four out of nine starting players.
“We were all a little nervous to see how we would play with such a different group, and to be able to play as well as we did in the second game was really big,” Amarilla said.
Rodeler agreed: “The team has become a clean slate, and everyone is working hard and trying to prove themselves.”
Amarilla also noted a change in the team dynamic this season.
“Our freshman class is really strong, and they came in with a different energy that we haven’t seen in a while,” she said. “They are really hard-working, and excited about softball. Our new coach has really worked on changing team culture, and it is a lot more fun with a lot better energy in the dugout, while we are still working hard and getting along well.”
Moving forward, the Athenas hope to win the regular season conference title, which would allow them to host the championship tournament. This would put them on course to their biggest goal: winning the SCIAC championship game.
“We have some really important seniors on the team, and I think this year would be a really good year to come away with the SCIAC win,” Amarilla said.
The Athenas now look ahead to their next home game Feb. 16 versus non-conference opponent Linfield.