TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team fell by a 3-2 score in a tightly contested final game against Central (IA) at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Arizona. Maddie Valdez sparked the offense when she launched the 18th home run of her career to tie a CMS softball record.
The Athenas slip to 9-10 overall and a day after winning two of three games, mounting a comeback after trailing by one run in the latter stages of the game to tie the contest twice before Central (IA) walked off in the bottom of the seventh inning 3-2. Central improved to 6-1 with the victory. CMS went 2-3 in the NFCA Leadoff Classic after facing three top-20 teams during their five-game slate of games over the past three days. The final game of the weekend against WashU was canceled due to unplayable field conditions because of rain.
Valdez walked up to the batter's box in the top of the seventh with the Athenas trailing 2-1 and drilled the second pitch that she saw from Sydni Huisman to tie the game 2-2 and tie the all-time CMS home run record with 18 for her career. She matches Carly Roledar who hit 18 homers from 2015-18 and needs one more to climb the mountain and etch her name atop the program's home run leader list.
Lauren Richards held Central (IA) off the board until the third inning when a two-out single to center by Kaitlyn Andresen notched the first hit for the Dutch. Megan Doty pinch ran for Andresen and would later score on an infield single by Shaye Witte putting Central (IA) up 1-0 through three innings.
The one-run lead held until the top of the sixth inning when Athenas pinch-hitter Natalie Dale beat out an infield single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kylie Hetzel, and scored on a wild pitch that resulted in a collision at home plate and knotted the game, 1-1.
Central (IA) regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after a run scored on a fielder's choice permitting Daria Parchert to touch home plate and push the Dutch back in front, 2-1, through six innings.
Valdez stepped to the plate and crushed a solo home run to center field with two outs in the top of the seventh to tie the game, 2-2. In the bottom of the inning, Central (IA) began its rally with an infield single by Sara Tallman and a hit-by-pitch of Andresen and a Witte bunt-single to load the bases. Parchert lined a single to right fielder and Tallman scored to give the Dutch a 3-2 walk-off win.
Richards struck out three over 6.1 innings in the circle and Dale recorded her team-leading eighth stolen base of the season. Valdez was the only Athena to record an RBI and she was one of five to record a hit including Hetzel (1-for-2), Dale (1-for-1), Perron (1-for-3), and Richards (1-for-3) in the one-run loss.
CMS is back in action on Friday, Mar. 13 as Occidental comes to Claremont for the first of a three-game SCIAC series scheduled for 2 p.m. at Athena Field.