The 17th ranked CMS Athenas lost a late lead and game one 7-6 at La Verne on Saturday, but bounced back to win game two 5-2. CMS improved to 7-2 overall and remain tied for first place in SCIAC with a 4-2 record. La Verne dropped to 9-8 and 6-4.
CMS took the field in the bottom of the sixth of game one with a commanding 6-3 lead after another strong day in the circle from senior pitcher Erika Weingart (Brea). The senior, despite being weakened from a week of being sick, was dominant in her presence and focus until running out of steam after five. She still managed to limit the Leopards to eight hits and three runs in five complete innings.
The Athenas took the field in the bottom of the sixth ahead 6-3 and promptly recorded the lead-off out. After a slow roller got by third baseman Lisa Gutierrez, the next batter bloop singled into left to put two runners on. Only two batters later, La Verne had closed the gap to 6-5 with two outs and a runner on third. What followed was a classic battle between senior Kari Granger and freshman Rebecca Gularte (Sunnyvale), pitching in relief for Weingart. Granger won this one with a two run blast to put the Leopards up 7-6. Stunned, the Athenas could not tie the score in the top of the seventh and suffered a tough loss.
In true championship form, the resilient squad bounced back immediately in game two. They started the game with three hits in the top of the first and though they did not score the tone for the game was set. CMS scored twice in the second and in the top of the fourth with the score 2-1, sophomore Melissa Munoz (Union City) nailed La Verne's coffin shut with a three run shot over the center field fence.
Senior Jessica Vaughn (Placerville [pictured]) led all hitters going three for four with a run scored and a RBI recorded in the game (for the day she was four for seven with a run and two RBI's ). Well known in the dug-out as a steadying influence, the senior was also flawless defensively making several strong plays and leading through example in all ways.
Junior Julia Cruz, (Tustin) recently named the NFCA Division lll Player of the Week, http://www.nfca.org/news/?id=3071, lived up to the accolades notching another superb win. In complete control from the first pitch, Cruz shut down the La Verne squad giving up only five hits and one earned run, while striking out five and walking none.
Several strong defensive performances were turned in on the day, with one exceptional web-gem and rally killer made by centerfielder Megan Morris. In what looked like a clear shot to left center, the New Jersey freshman (Ridgewood [pictured]) closed the gap at a full sprint and laid out making a spectacular diving catch that brought the crowd on both sides to its feet.
The Athenas have a busy week ahead with double-headers on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.