Ananya Koneti's Three RBI Leads CMS Softball Past Chapman 3-1 to Keep SCIAC Tournament Championship Hopes Alive

Lauren Richards earns complete game victory to help keep the Athenas SCIAC Tournament Championship hopes alive.
Lauren Richards earns complete game victory to help keep the Athenas SCIAC Tournament Championship hopes alive.

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team needed a victory to keep its hope of winning the SCIAC Tournament Championship alive and earned one, taking a 3-1 victory over Chapman in an elimination game at Athena Field on Saturday.

The Athenas remain in contention for a SCIAC Tournament Championship and an auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament with the victory over Chapman. With the loss, the Panthers season comes to an end after finishing the year 19-22 overall and 18-10 in the SCIAC. 

CMS faced Whittier for the fourth time in a week and went back-and-forth with the Poets into the sixth inning until the game was postponed due to darkness. It will resume play at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the bottom of the sixth inning with Whitter leading CMS 5-4 and the Athenas in the field with the Poets at-bat. 

Ananya Koneti drove in all three of the Athenas runs in the victory over Chapman, coming through with a double to right field in the third inning to tie the game 1-1 after falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Sarah Whalen. 

Koneti was clutch once again in the fifth inning as she singled to left and two runs scored, pinch runner Natalie Dale, and Megan Perron touched home pushing the Athenas in front 3-1 through five innings. 

Lauren Richards (W, 19-3) continued to be stellar in the circle for the SCIAC Newcomer of the Year Award winner as she held the Panthers to one run on three hits with four strikeouts over 7.0 innings to earn her 19th win of the season following a complete game effort. 

Maddie Valdez recorded two hits in four at-bats with one run scored including a double, Chloe Amarilla went 1-for-3, Perron doubled in the fifth inning for her only hit of the game, Kawai Scanlan and Rachel Perley each recorded one hit. 

The Athenas as a team managed eight hits as they outhit Chapman who recorded just three. At one point, Richards set down six straight batters but for the most part, she found herself battling out of runners on situations for much of the game. 

Chapman's strongest threat came in the bottom of the fifth when Michaela Foisy singled to center with one out and Sarah Whalen followed later in the frame with a single of her own with two outs on the board as the Panthers had the tying runs on base, but Richards was able to get out of the jam with a fly out to left field leaving the runners on. 

Richards set Chapman down in order in the bottom of the sixth on a trio of flyouts and struck out Kyra Gallego for the first out of the bottom of the seventh. After a one-out walk to Hope Ballard, Richards buckled down and induced a ground out to first base and a fly out to right field to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win and keep the season alive for at least one more game. 

CMS softball is back in action tomorrow at 10 a.m., with the aforementioned conclusion of the game against Whittier to be resumed at the start of the bottom of the sixth and the Poets coming up to bat holding a 5-4 lead in a do or die situation for both teams.

The winner will face Pomona-Pitzer at 12 p.m. with a chance to earn a SCIAC Tournament Championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament at stake.