With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the final game of a Saturday doubleheader and the game-tying run on first base, Molly Spaniac CM ’21 had a chance to salvage what had been a disappointing afternoon for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team (19-9, 8-8 SCIAC) with one swing of the bat.
But with a ground-ball fielder’s choice to second base, Spaniac went down as quietly as as the Athenas’ bats had been all day, and CMS dropped both games to the last-place California Lutheran University Regals (11-15, 4-10 SCIAC).
For CMS, the story all afternoon was the lack of offense; they couldn’t get anything started off of Cal Lutheran pitchers Brittany Workman and Olivia Serrano, scraping across just two runs over 14 innings.
The poor offensive performance wasted strong showings from Athena pitchers Anna Gurr CM ’18 and Chloe Amarilla CM ’19, who held the Regals to just two runs in each game on only eight hits.
“Our pitching held us in the ball games,” CMS head coach Gina Oaks Garcia said. “We just couldn’t come up with the timely hits when we needed it.”
In the first contest of the twin-bill, the Athenas appeared in control early on. Clear favorites coming into the doubleheader, CMS played the part well through the first five innings, as Gurr was dominant enough on the mound to overshadow the the Athenas’ offensive struggles.
Gurr had eight strikeouts through five scoreless innings, scattering three hits. CMS got out to a one-run lead in the third, as leadoff hitter Reeve Grobecker CM ’19 singled in right fielder Jessica Fox CM ’21 with two outs.
However, everything came crashing down for CMS in the sixth. The top of the Regals’ order scorched Gurr as they faced her for the third time in the game, and they were able to push two runs across, giving Cal Lutheran the 2-1 lead. A leadoff single by Olivia Leyva was followed by a single from Antonia Rapisardi and a double by Kendall Marinesi, and all of a sudden, CMS was down a run with two innings to play.
Although the Athenas got the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the seventh, Grobecker was unable to pick up her second RBI of the game, grounding out for the final out, and after CMS controlled much of the game, the Regals walked away with a 2-1 win.
The second game was much of the same story. Amarilla took the mound for the Athenas, and she was dominant for the first three innings. However, Cal Lutheran capitalized when Serrano helped her own cause with a game-tying RBI single in the fourth. The away team then took the lead an inning later with a sacrifice fly by Leyva, and CMS once again went into the seventh down 2-1. This led to Spaniac’s final at bat, as she bounced into the fielder’s choice to end the game.
The pair of losses were gut-punches to the Athenas, who have struggled recently. After going 18-10 in the SCIAC last season, they currently sit at 8-8 in the conference, with a painful doubleheader sweep by rival Pomona-Pitzer (19-6-1,10-3-1 SCIAC) March 24 still fresh in their minds.
However, catcher Savannah Green CM ’20 doesn’t see any reason to panic over the Athenas’ recent troubles.
“Honestly [Saturday] was an off day,” Green said. “It’s bound to happen when you play from January to May.”
After all, prior to the pair of losses at the hands of the Sagehens, the Athenas had won 10 games in a row, and 13 of their previous 14 matchups.
Green believes CMS will get back to that winning style of play as the season continues.
“I think it we have been pressing a little bit to try to get the results we want,” she said. “We just need to get back to playing loose and trusting our abilities.”
Oaks Garcia is also confident in her team’s ability to turn things around.
“The team is practicing strong and their energy is great,” she said. “We have a great vibe going on and I am very proud of this team. They have recommitted to their goals we set earlier in the year, and are ready to fight the remainder of the season.”
The Athenas will be back in action April 7, and hope to right the ship with a pair of victories at Whittier College (14-9-1, 7-5 SCIAC).