CMS Softball Rallies With Four in Seventh, But Whittier Bounces Back for 9-8 Win in SCIAC Elimination Game

Maddie Valdez had a big RBI single in a four-run seventh inning rally for CMS, before Whittier came back in the bottom half
Maddie Valdez had a big RBI single in a four-run seventh inning rally for CMS, before Whittier came back in the bottom half

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Down to its final out and trailing by two runs, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team completed a four-run rally to take an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh, but Whittier had two bloop singles fall in with two outs in the bottom half to prevail in a wild back-and-forth 9-8 win in a SCIAC Tournament elimination game on Sunday morning at Athena Field.

Witht he loss. CMS drops to 31-11 on the year and will wait for a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament when bids are announced on Monday. Whittier improves to 21-18-1 and will advance to the championship round later today against Pomona-Pitzer. 

The CMS-Whittier game was suspended due to darkness on Saturday night with the Poets holding a 5-4 lead and due up in the bottom of the sixth inning. Whittier then added two more runs in the sixth to extend its lead to 7-4 and make the task more difficult for the Athenas in the their last at-bat. 

CMS had won 11 times this year by scoring in their last at-bat to take the lead and nearly did it again. A one-out error opened the door, and sophomore designated player Megan Perron drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Sophomore catcher Maddie Valdez then hit an RBI single to right field, with Perron and Valdez each advancing a base on the throw to put runners on second and third and cut the lead to 7-5. 

Whittier got the second out on a chopper to shortstop to come one out from the victory, but CMS responded as freshman pitcher Lauren Richards hit a sharp grounder in the 5-6 hole and beat it out for an infield single as Perron scored from third to close the lead to 7-6. Senior right fielder Rachel Perley then came through on a full count with a single into shallow right-center, and Richards was able to come home when Whittier's throw to third got away, putting the Athenas ahead 8-7. 

The Poets then turned the table with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to take the win. An error and an intentional walk to All-SCIAC catcher Brittany Attaway put runners on first and second with two outs. Richards then rode a screwball in on the hands of Jade Sanchez for a jam shot pop-up towards shortstop, but Sanchez got just enough contact to carry it over the head of shortstop Alex Schulten and into shallow left-center, as the tying run scored and Attaway raced around to third base after taking off on contact with two outs. 

Natalia Sanchez then stepped up with the winning run on third and hit another pop up in shallow left behind third base. It was too long of a run for sophomore Molly Spaniac to get there, and it came down to whether the ball was fair or foul as to whether the game would continue on. Unfortunately for the Athenas, the ball landed squarely on the line for a fair ball as Attaway scored to make it a 9-8 Whittier victory. 

CMS was playing without senior captain and SCIAC Offensive Player of the Year Chloe Amarilla, the team's leadoff hitter and one of its two starting pitchers, who was lost with an injury in yesterday's elimination win over Chapman and was unable to return for the rest of the tournament. Richards was left having to carry the load, throwing a three-hit complete game against Chapman in her first game yesterday, but she had less in the tank against the potent Whittier line-up and suffered only her fourth loss of the season, dropping to 19-4. 

Four different CMS players had two hits over the two-day contest, with Perron batting 2-for-3 with two RBI, sophomore center fielder Kawai Scanlan, who moved up to the leadoff spot in Amarilla's absence, was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Richards and Perley were each 2-for-4 with a clutch RBI with two outs in the seventh to cap the temporary comeback. 

The NCAA Division III selection show will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow (PDT) as the Athenas will find out if their season will continue into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.