Dance Card Punched! CMS Softball Hosts NCAA Regional This Weekend, Opens with Whittier

Chloe Amarilla and the Class of 2019 will have at least two more home games with a home regional this weekend
Chloe Amarilla and the Class of 2019 will have at least two more home games with a home regional this weekend

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championships and will serve as a host for a three-team regional, along with Linfield and Whittier, this Friday through Sunday at Athena Field.

The Athenas will open play on Friday with a game against SCIAC rival Whittier, which emerged with the league's automatic bid after taking the SCIAC Postseason Tournament title this weekend. CMS (31-11 overall) won the regular season title with a 24-4 league record and had its postseason chances enhanced with a couple of big non-conference wins as well, including a doubleheader sweep of Williams, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with a 33-5 record, losing only three times all year since the Athenas took two from the Ephs. 

CMS climbed as high as No. 5 in the nation during the regular season, but struggled a bit down the stretch with five recent losses, four of which came at the hands of the Poets (5-4, 5-4 in the regular season finale, and 8-3 and 9-8 in the SCIAC Tournament). The Athenas will need to beat Whittier at least once in order to advance to the Super Regionals, due to the format of a three-team double elimination tournament. Each team will play each other one time, with CMS and Whittier opening the tournament on Friday.

After the round-robin, the format depends on the results from the first three games. If one team is 2-0, one team is 1-1 and one team is 0-2, the 0-2 team is eliminated and the 1-1 team has to beat the 2-0 team twice, with the first one on Saturday (Sunday would only be if necessary). If everyone splits and all three teams are 1-1, then CMS and Whittier will play again as the No. 2 vs. No. 3 seed match-up, with No. 1 Linfield earning a bye of sorts and awaiting the winner for Sunday's championship. 

CMS and Linfield met up last year in the NCAA Regionals, with the Wildcats prevailing 2-1 in the final game. Senior Chloe Amarilla threw a complete game in a losing effort for the Athenas, but Cheyenne Fletcher broke a 1-1 tie with a homer in the fifth inning. Shelby Saylors held CMS to three hits, with current sophomores Jessica Fox and Molly Spaniac each getting one. 

This year, Linfield comes in with a 35-6-1 record and a No. 5 national ranking. One of its losses came on opening day to SCIAC foe Pomona-Pitzer, and one came in its regular season finale to Whitworth (which CMS split with on its opening day). The Wildcats responded, though, with a dominant effort in the Northwest Conference tournament, defeating George Fox 6-0 and then defeating Whitworth twice (11-1 and 5-1). 

Start times for all five potential tournament games will be announced later today. To view the complete NCAA Division III Softball bracket, head to the following link:

NCAA.com