REDLANDS, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team won their third consecutive SCIAC Tournament title beating Redlands 11-0 on Saturday afternoon at Redlands' "Field of Dreams." The Athenas entered the second day of the tournament as the only undefeated team after having won both games on Friday against Chapman (6-0) and Redlands (5-4). In the championship game, CMS faced Redlands again as the Bulldogs beat Whittier earlier in the day. Redlands won the first match up with CMS 1-0 to push the tournament to the "if necessary" championship game where the Athenas came out on top to be crowned SCIAC Tournament Champions.
The drive to win the conference tournament was fueled by having dropped out of the NCAA Regional rankings the week prior. As the tournament champions, the Athenas earned the automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament and await the selection show on Monday morning at 7 a.m. PST which determines the seeding and location for the 16 regional sites.
Watch here: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2014/05/05
In the 11-0 rout CMS recorded 15 hits and scored in all but one inning. Sophomore Janelle Shiozaki led off the game with a double down the right field line and ultimately scored the first CMS run on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Katie Savard.
The Athenas went on to score six runs in the second inning, one in the third and tacked on three more in the top of the fifth. In her first start in the post-season, freshman Melanie Carlson played left field, went 2-for-3 and kick started the scoring in the explosive second inning with a sharply hit single to score freshman Alexa Heydenberk.
Shiozaki had a break out performance hitting two triples and a double with three runs scored.
Fellow outfielder sophomore Shannon O'Neill was a menace on the bases and at the plate as she beat out an infield grounder in the third inning to continue a growing rally.
In the first game of the day, the Athenas were finding ways on base but were unable to come up with the timely hitting to get on the board. It seemed the score would get tied up when sophomore Brooklyn Robinson led off the sixth inning with a shot out to center field. Unfortunately it did not quite have the distance behind it resulting in a double as the ball hit off the base of the fence.
Redlands' pitcher Lauren Henson held the Athenas scoreless for the entire game and earned the win.
All-SCIAC First Team players Amanda Lievanos, AJ Carrasco and Vicki King led the Bulldogs' offense with 12 of the team's 20 hits over the three games CMS and Redlands faced each other during the tournament. Between the three of them, there were five extra base hits: three doubles and two triples.
On defense, CMS took an inning to find their composure before buckling down to play flawless defense behind junior Hayley Schultz.
Schultz led the Athenas from the circle all day. After giving up one unearned run in the bottom of the first inning in the first game on Saturday, she went on to pitch 11 consecutive scoreless innings against the potent Bulldog lineup. For the tournament, Schultz recorded a 1.05 ERA, consistent with her season ERA and earning her a spot in the top 20 lowest ERA in the nation on the season.
The SCIAC Player of the Year, sophomore Tara Robinson, did not disappoint as she hit .400 on the weekend and scored five of the team's 22 runs. Sophomore Carlene Roberts additionally had an outstanding tournament with solid defensive play at third base and went 5-for-11 at the plate with six RBI.
Beltz was a pillar of confidence and calm on defense as she caught all 25 innings over the four games in the weekend. Additionally, she made two web gem catches on towering foul balls to help get the Athenas out of jams on defense.
The tournament was completely a "team win," says head coach Betsy Hipple.
CMS (28-13) earns their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, their third by way of the automatic qualification from winning the conference tournament.
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