Big Second Inning Leads Whittier Past CMS in NCAA Softball Opening Round

Ananya Koneti had an RBI single and a walk for the Athenas in her first career NCAA contest
Ananya Koneti had an RBI single and a walk for the Athenas in her first career NCAA contest

CLAREMONT, Calif. – Sophomore first baseman Naomi Martinez hit a three-run home run to cap a six-run second inning as the Whittier Softball team took a 9-1, five-inning win over host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at the Claremont (Calif.) Regional of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Tournament on Friday afternoon.

Whittier improves to 24-18-1 overall on the year, while CMS slips to 31-12 before meeting No. 5 Linfield tomorrow on the second day of the double-elimination regional. 

The Poets got off to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, as senior catcher Brittany Attaway was hit by a pitch with two outs, and sophomore third baseman Jade Sanchez followed with a double down the left field line to plate Attaway with the game's first run.

Whittier stretched its lead to 7-0 in the second with six runs, all coming after the Athenas got the first out. Freshman left fielder Emily Facio had a chopper in front of home plate that she beat out for a single, which was followed by a walk to junior second baseman Sierra Rodriguez, and a hit by pitch to freshman center fielder Brianna MaGee. With the bases loaded, senior right fielder Kacey Whitney hit a single into the right-center field gap to make it 2-0, and a wild pitch scored Rodriguez to push the lead to 3-0.

Attaway followed with a grounder to shortstop that wasn't fielded cleanly for an RBI, reaching first on an error. CMS replaced starting pitcher Lauren Richards with freshman Lexi Singh, who got the second out on a popup in the infield, but Martinez followed with a drive over the center field wall to stretch the lead to 7-0.

CMS got one run back in the bottom of the second as sophomore third baseman Maddie Valdez hit the top of the wall in left-center for a leadoff double, and came home on an RBI single from freshman first baseman Ananya Koneti, just beating the tag at the plate. Whittier, though, was able to get two more runs in the third on an RBI double from Rodriguez and an RBI single from MaGee, making the score 9-1 and enforcing the eight-run rule after the fifth inning.

Melodia improves to 8-3 on the season with a three-hitter, allowing one run and striking out one. Richards slips to 19-5 on the season with the loss for the Athenas. Martinez finished 2-for-2 with a homer and three RBI, while Facio was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Whitney was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

Whittier plays No. 5 Linfield in the next game at 3:30 on Friday as part of the pre-set double-elimination format for the three-team regional, while CMS will face Linfield tomorrow at 11 a.m. With today's win, Whittier knows it will advance through to tomorrow and play at 2:30 against an opponent to be determined, while CMS will have to beat Linfield to stay alive and face the Poets at 2:30.