Defending SCIAC Champion CMS Softball Picked Second in 2019

Defending SCIAC Champion CMS Softball Picked Second in 2019

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team, which earned the 2018 SCIAC Championship a year ago, was picked to finish second in the SCIAC again this spring according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches, the conference office announced today.

The Athenas finished last year with a 32-14 record while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years with a 3-0 record in the SCIAC Tournament, including a 2-0 championship game win over La Verne. CMS won its opening NCAA Tournament game 6-3 over George Fox, before being eliminated with a 2-1 defeat to top-seeded Linfield. 

Pomona-Pitzer was picked to finish first in a very close vote with 52 points, including two first-place selections. CMS has three first-place selections, but ended up one point behind with 51 points, while La Verne and Whittier were tied for third two points behind with 49 points in one of the closest polls in recent memory. Chapman was fifth with 32 points, with Redlands, Occidental, and Cal Lutheran in the 6-8 spots.  

CMS returns the bulk of its 2018 championship team, graduating only three seniors off of last year's squad. However, one of them was four-year starting pitcher Anna Gurr, who had a 71-29 record and a 1.48 ERA in her CMS career, including 23 wins as a sophomore and a 0.90 ERA as a junior. Brianna Halle (.350) and Carly Roleder (3 HR, 30 RBI) also graduated, leaving a couple of holes to fill in the lineup. 

Plenty of talent returns, though, led by senior All-American Chloe Amarilla, who batted .428 a year ago while serving as the team's No. 2 pitcher (11-5, 2.49 ERA). Amarilla had five perfect days at the plate last year, including a 4-for-4 effort against La Verne, while also throwing a no-hitter in the circle against Hamline. 

Supporting Amarilla will be a talented sophomore class, featuring four players who jumped into the regular starting line-up a year ago, helping new head coach Gina Oaks Garcia to a SCIAC title in her first year at the helm. 

Outfielder Kawai Scanlan nearly hit .400 in her freshman campaign last fall, before settling for an impressive .381 average, to go along with six doubles, five triples and 30 RBI. Catcher Maddie Valdez batted .347 while leading the team in RBI (27) and extra-base hits, finishing with 11 doubles, three triples and four homers. Outfielder Molly Spaniac hit .343 with eight doubles and three triples, while utility player Jessica Fox batted .289 with seven doubles as a regular starter as well. 

Seniors Rachel Perley and Megan Mendez return to give the Athenas a wealth of options to use in the outfield this fall. Junior catcher Savannah Green and junior infielder Kylie Hetzel saw regular action a year ago and will look to expand their roles this season with a few openings in the line-up. Sophomore pitcher Megan Perron will also look to get the ball for more innings in the circle after Gurr's graduation. 

The Athenas will also welcome in six first-year players who will look to follow in the footsteps of last year's freshman class and have an immediate impact. Pitchers Lauren Richards and Lexi Singh will add quality depth in the circle, Jordan Bennett can either play catcher or in the infield, Ananya Koneti brings a left-handed bat to the first base position, Alexa Schulten primarily plays third base, while Natalie Dale can play anywhere in the infield. 

CMS opens its 2019 season in less than two weeks, when it hosts Whitworth for a 12 p.m. doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 8. The Athenas open SCIAC play with a road doubleheader at Chapman on Saturday, Feb. 16. 

2019 SCIAC Preseason Poll
1. Pomona-Pitzer (2) - 52 points
2. CMS (3) - 51 points
3. La Verne (2) - 49 points
4. Whittier (1) - 49 points
5. Chapman - 32 points
6. Redlands - 28 points 
7. Occidental - 14 points
8. Cal Lutheran - 13 points