CLAREMONT, Calif. - Freshman shortstop Alexa Schulten had a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to break a 3-3 tie and give the No. 15 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team a 5-3 win over La Verne in the nightcap of a doubleheader, completing a sweep after also capturing the opening game 8-7 in eight innings.
Freshman pitcher Lauren Richards came on in relief to get the win in the opener and threw a complete game victory in the nightcap, which she also did last week when the Athenas swept No. 11 Pomona-Pitzer 3-2 in 10 innings in game one and 2-0 in game two. CMS now stands at 9-2 overall and 8-0 in the SCIAC, while La Verne, which could have passed CMS for first place in the league with a sweep, falls to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in league play.
The Athenas, who have now won five league games in their final at-bat, including all four games in the last two doubleheader sweeps and a 4-1 win over Chapman that was tied 1-1 in the sixth, had to respond to some adversity to come out of the La Verne doubleheader unscathed. The Athenas lost leads four times in the first game, including a 7-5 lead with two outs in the seventh when Justice Borden tied it with a two-run double and the Leopards down to their final at-bat, and fell behind 3-1 in the fourth in the nightcap.
In the first game, Richards came on after La Verne tied it in the seventh and retired the side in order in the top of the eighth. In the bottom half, sophomore shortstop Jessica Fox roped a line-drive single to left with one out to put the winning run on base, and junior catcher Savannah Green followed with a single down the line past a drawn-in infield playing for a sacrifice bunt. Senior Chloe Amarilla then hit a chopper up the middle that was mishandled, allowing Fox to race around with the winning run.
Amarilla got things start off on a strong foot for CMS by hitting a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first. Sophomore left fielder Molly Spaniac then tripled, and sophomore first baseman Maddie Valdez hit a two-run blast over the left field wall to make it a 3-0 lead after one inning of play.
La Verne responded with a run in the second and two in the third to tie the score, before Valdez answered with an RBI single in the bottom of the third to put CMS back in front 4-3. The Leopards tied it in the fourth, and again CMS took the lead back on an RBI double from Richards in the bottom of the fifth.
For the third time, the Leopards came back with a run to tie the score in the sixth, before Schulten came on as a pinch hitter and broke a 5-5 tie with a suicide squeeze bunt in the bottom of the sixth. Amarilla drew a bases loaded walk to extend it to 7-5, before the Leopards answered on Borden's double to tie the score for the fourth time. CMS, though, was able to win it in the eighth, scoring a walk-off run that La Verne never had the chance to answer.
SB: Ballgame! Fox and Green with singles with one out in the 8th and Amarilla's chopper gets through for an unearned run. CMS takes game one 8-7! Game two coming up in 20 minutes. pic.twitter.com/1wc0iQLHEj— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) March 9, 2019
Valdez was 2-for-4 with three RBI in the opener, while Spaniac was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Amarilla was 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBI.
The nightcap was lower scoring, but CMS was able to break through in the third inning, as senior right fielder Rachel Perley, who had two 9-3 assists to take away La Verne hits in the opener, put down a suicide squeeze bunt to score freshman pinch runner Natalie Dale.
SB: Athenas are on the board! Perley gets the squeeze down and Dale slides in safe with the first run. CMS 1-0 going to the fourth. pic.twitter.com/jFp9S2J3q3— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) March 9, 2019
La Verne was able to get to Richards for three runs in the fourth inning to take its first lead of the day. It was also the first earned runs that Richards had allowed in league play this season, after the entering the nightcap 5-0 in SCIAC games with a 0.00 ERA.
Sophomore designated hitter Megan Perron, who had a walk-off RBI hit in last week's extra-inning win over Pomona-Pitzer, came up with another big hit to stem the momentum, driving a two-out RBI double to score Richards and make the score 3-2, before coming home on an error to tie the score.
Richards settled back in to her role in the circle and got through the fifth and sixth with no damage to keep the score tied 3-3, before CMS responded yet again in its last at-bat. After Richards lined out the other way to right field, Valdez singled to left on the first pitch, and sophomore Kawai Scanlan had an infield single to put two runners on. With two outs, both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and freshman first baseman Ananya Koneti drew a walk to load the bases.
That brought up Schulten with the bases loaded and two outs, and with the count 2-2, she was able to get enough of a pitch in on the hands to get it over the infield and into shallow left-center to plate two runners and give CMS the 5-3 lead.
Perley then had another big defensive play, this time with her glove, for the first out of the seventh on an over-the-shoulder catch, and after a walk put one runner on, Amarilla fielded a bunt and a short-hop at third to get the final two outs and give CMS the sweep.
CMS finished with six hits in the nightcap, with nobody having more than one. Valdez was 1-for-3 to end the day 3-for-7, while Schulten's two-run single gave her three RBI in three plate appearances. Richards allowed seven hits and struck out three while keeping her record a perfect 6-0 in the circle.
The Athenas will be back in action on Friday for a non-league doubleheader when they host Ithaca for a 2 p.m. doubleheader, before traveling to Occidental on Saturday for another SCIAC twinbill.