Maddie Valdez Sets CMS Home Run Record, CMS Softball Earns Key Road Sweep at La Verne

Maddie Valdez hit her 10th homer of the season, setting a new CMS record, in a 5-1 win in the opener.
Maddie Valdez hit her 10th homer of the season, setting a new CMS record, in a 5-1 win in the opener.

LA VERNE, Calif. - Sophomore Maddie Valdez set a CMS single-season record with her tenth home run of the season in the opener, as the No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team won a pair of road games at La Verne 5-1 and 7-5 to reduce its magic number to two to clinch the regular season title and right to host the conference tournament with six games left.

The Athenas improve to 27-6 overall and 21-1 in the SCIAC with the two wins, leaving them with a four-game lead on Pomona-Pitzer (17-5) with six games left. CMS would also have the tiebreaker with Pomona-Pitzer due to winning the series 3-1, and they need just two more wins (or Sagehen losses) to guarantee no worse than a tie for first. La Verne falls to 15-19 overall and 11-11 in SCIAC play with the losses. 

Freshman pitcher Lauren Richards threw a complete-game five-hitter in the opener to improve to 16-2 on the year, then added a save in the nightcap by pitching the final 2.1 innings without allowing a run, as CMS held on for the 7-5 win. Senior Rachel Perley added her first homer of the season, and second of her career, in the second game. 

La Verne struck first in the opening game with an RBI double from Katheryn Navarro to take a quick 1-0 lead, but the Athenas were able to get the answer in the top of the third, when sophomore left fielder Molly Spaniac had an RBI single to tie it, right after senior shortstop Chloe Amarilla had a two-out double.

CMS then had another two-out rally in the fifth, this time plating four runs, to break the game open. Amarilla started it with a single up the middle, and Spaniac singled through the left side to send Amarilla to third with the go-ahead run. Sophomore designated player Megan Perron then singled up the middle to bring home Amarilla and give CMS the 2-1 lead. 

One batter later, CMS would get plenty of insurance, as Valdez sent a pitch over the left field fence to make it a 5-1 game. It was her 10th homer of the year, breaking the previous Athena record of nine for a single season, first set by Harmony Palmer in 2010 and matched by Carly Roleder in 2016. 

Richards, meanwhile, settled in after allowing the run in the first, pitching out of a mini-jam in the sixth with two on and one out, and then retiring the side in order in the seventh to finish off the win. She allowed five hits and struck out three, one day after coming five outs from a no-hitter in the nightcap against Pomona-Pitzer before settling for a three-hitter in a 2-1 win.

Perron was 4-for-4 at the plate in the opening game for the Athenas, while Amarilla (2-for-4) and Spaniac (2-for-4) each had multi-hit games as well. Richards scattered her five hits, as nobody on the Leopards had more than one hit in the opener. 

In the second game, CMS jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a run in the first and two in the second, but had to keep holding off La Verne rallies to come away with the 7-5 win. The Athenas scored in the top of the first after Spaniac doubled to move Amarilla, who reached on an error, to third base and an RBI groundout from Valdez got CMS on the board. 

After Amarilla had a 1-2-3 inning in the pitching circle in the bottom of the first, sophomore center fielder Kawai Scanlan led off the second with a double. One batter later, Perley put one over the left-center field fence to make it a 3-0 game. 

La Verne got one back in the second on a double-steal attempt when the Athenas got the out at second base, but Navarro came home on the throw. CMS responded with two in the third, as Perron, Valdez and Richards led off with three straight singles before a throwing error plated Perron, and Scanlan followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1. 

The Leopards, though, plated two in the bottom of the third to get right back in it, capped off by a Navarro RBI single, but the Athenas were able to get a second runner trying to score on the play as Perley relayed it to second baseman Kylie Hetzel, and catcher Savannah Green applied the tag to keep the score 5-3. 

La Verne added another run in the fourth, which CMS answered in the top of the fifth as Valdez singled and scored on a wild pitch. But once again the Leopards bounced back as Rachel Ogata homered to lead off and make it a 6-5 game. With two on and two out, Richards came into the game in relief and hit the first batter to load the bases, but then got a grounder to Hetzel at second to keep the Athenas in front. 

Perley singled to lead off the sixth, and after Green sacrificed her over, Amarilla drove her in with an RBI double to close out the scoring. La Verne put two runners on in the seventh on a double from Navarro and a single from Justice Borden, but Richards got the final two outs on pop-ups to finish off her first save of the year. 

Perley (2-for-3), Richards (2-for-3), Amarilla (2-for-4), and Valdez (2-for-4) each had multi-hit games in the nightcap for the Athenas, while Amarilla earned the win in the circle to improve to 9-4.

CMS will be back in action next weekend for four home games, taking on Redlands on Friday at 2 p.m. and Occidental on Saturday at 12 noon.