LA VERNE, Calif. – After two convincing wins yesterday, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team was primed for a rematch with the University of La Verne for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Tournament title. In front of a large crowd and in championship atmosphere, the Athenas delivered and won the program's fourth tournament championship in five years with the 4-2 victory over the Leopards.
CMS got on the board in the top of the first without recording a solid hit. Tara Robinson (CMC) bunted her way on and then Katie Savard (CMC) and Carly Roleder (CMC) followed that up with infield singles to load the bases. The hero of yesterday, Carlene Roberts (CMC) stepped to the plate with two outs. Instead of risking her getting a hold of a pitch, the Leos walked Roberts to give the Athenas their first run. ULV got out of the inning allowing just the one CMS run.
The Leopards stranded one in the bottom of the frame as sophomore starter Anna Gurr (CMC) caused three ground outs.
CMS kept at it in the top of the second as Abigail Metsch (SCR) led off with a deep homer to right center, putting the Athenas up 2-0. This was her second home run in the tournament.
Gurr started the bottom of the third with her second strikeout of the game but then the next batter, in a wild play, rounded the bases on two Athena errors for La Verne's first run of the game.
In the fourth inning, ULV's Katy Kibbe got on with a single and ended up on third after a sacrifice bunt. With one out, Kibbe broke on a grounder to Roleder who threw her out at the plate trying to even the score. Roberts defended the plate nicely for the second out of the inning. CMS got out of the inning with a fly to Shannon O'Neill (CMC) in right field, preserving its 2-1 lead.
The score remained at 2-1 but the intensity increased during the fifth and sixth innings. In the bottom of the sixth, the Leos' all-conference first baseman, Alexis Schiff, hit her 12th homer of the season to tie the game 2-2.
In the top of the seventh, a leadoff single by Reeve Grobecker (CMC) followed by a bunt single by Rachel Perley (HMC) put a runner in scoring position for the Athenas with no outs recorded. Two batters later, Robinson came to the plate with runners on second and third. A double over the head of the third baseman down the left field line scored both and put CMS up 4-2.
The two-run cushion gave Gurr the confidence she needed going into the bottom of the frame to face the bottom of ULV's lineup. The Leopards would not go down without a fight and managed to load up the bases for Schiff (who had gone yard earlier). The CMS all-conference third baseman, Metsch, made the easy out at third on a grounder for the Athenas to win the game and tournament and earn CMS the automatic qualification to the NCAA Regionals.
Over the three wins, Gurr allowed only three earned runs in 17 innings pitched for a 1.24 ERA. She struck out seven on the weekend including five in the championship game. Six of the CMS starters hit over .400 on the weekend as Roberts led with six RBI followed by Metsch with five. Defensively, Grobecker made 11 assists and six putouts to personally account for a third of CMS' outs over the three games.
This marks the seventh team that head coach Betsy Hipple will lead into the NCAA tournament. After the game, Hipple said, "what a great team win! Way to come out and play a heck of a game today. La Verne is a good team and there is no better preparation for the NCAA tournament."
The Athenas, now 34-8-1, await the NCAA's decision of where they will be sent for Regionals. Watch the selection show on Monday, May 9 at 10 a.m. PST.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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