The No. 22 Athenas of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges headlined the opening day of the 2012 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Softball Postseason Tournament by staying atop the winners' section of the double-elimination bracket with a pair of wins. Second-seeded CMS fired off 14 hits en route to a 9-2 victory over No. 3 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges and then made the most of opportunities in a 5-2 decision over No. 4 Whittier College to cap off Friday's action.
Senior Ari Roach and freshman Emily Glass accounted for the Sagehens' only runs against CMS, with each launching a long ball over the fence early in the game.
However, the Athenas connected on two home runs of their own, which contributed to the high-octane offense that included 14 hits and nine runs. Seniors Emily Lopez and Rebecca King both knocked one of out the park, accounting for three of the team's nine RBI.
In addition, junior Harmony Palmer, senior Amanda Banducci and senior Emily Nordhoff found the gaps on well-struck doubles for CMS.
During the Athenas' win over Whittier, they initiated the scoring with a four-spot in the top of the second, with King's leadoff homer setting the stage. Palmer led CMS with two RBI, which came on a well-placed double in the high-scoring stanza.
Freshman Hayley Schultz was impressive from the circle, notching two complete-game victories for the Athenas. She scattered a total of 13 hits and fanned six batters on the day.
Whittier started off the event with a surprise 5-1 upset of the top-seeded University of Redlands, sending the Bulldogs to the bottom half of the bracket. The Poets pushed runs across in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, with Redlands' only score coming on an illegal pitch.
Sophomore Jordan Learn contributed a 3-for-4 performance with one RBI, while senior Nikki Mendoza and freshman Emi Shimamoto provided two hits each at the top of the Whittier's lineup.
The 13th-ranked Bulldogs loaded the bases on two occasions but failed to capitalize, leaving a total of 11 runners stranded. Senior Kai Masutani and sophomore Amanda Lievanos accounted for five of the team's six hits.
Junior Jessica Rosnack posted a complete-game effort from the circle, fanning three batters in the win.
Eager for redemption, the Bulldogs fired off 11 runs in five innings with only seven hits to defeat Pomona-Pitzer in Friday's third game.
Masutani initiated the scoring when she ripped off a two-run homer in the first inning, plating sophomore Amanda Clark, who led off with a hit-by-pitch.
Lievanos and freshman Linda Park each uncorked big-time doubles in the second inning, accounting for five runs of the Bulldogs' seven-spot.
In addition, junior Kayla Uphold provided a multi-RBI effort with a pair of singles up the middle.
Sophomore Gabrielle Sciuto recorded the win after finishing out the final three innings for the Maroon and Gray. She gave up just one run and struck out two while facing one more than the minimum.
Redlands and Whittier duke it out in Saturday's 10 a.m. game, with the winner facing CMS at 12:30 p.m.
The champion of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament earns the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, which begin May 10.