The Whittier softball team earned a 9-1 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) in a battle of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) rivals before falling to Linfield, 6-5 on Friday afternoon in game two on the campus of the Athenas in Claremont, Calif. in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Championship.
Whittier improves to 24-19-1 overall, while CMS moves to 31-12 on the season. The Athenas will take on Linfield on Saturday at 11 a.m. The Poets await either CMS or Linfield at 2:30 p.m.
Game 1: Whittier def. CMS, 9-1 (5 inn.)
A week after winning the SCIAC Postseason Tournament title on the campus of top-seeded CMS, Whittier got off to a fast start against the Athenas in the NCAA playoffs. The Poets plated a run in the top of the first and then struck for six in the top of the second. Two more runs in the top of the third and three straight scoreless innings on defense allowed Whittier to secure the 9-1, 5-inning win on Friday.
A Jade Sanchez double down the left field line gave Whittier the early lead in the first frame, before Kacey Whitney, and Brittany Attaway, each drove in runs to help increase the advantage to 4-0 in the second. A Naomi Martinez fly ball over the fence with two lifted the lead to 7-0 after an inning and a half of play.
CMS got a run back in the bottom of the second as Ananya Koneti singled in Maddie Valdez, but it was all the Athenas could muster offensively as the Poets used a Sierra Rodriguez RBI double, and a run-scoring single by Brianna MaGee to make it 9-1 after three stanzas.
Whittier pitcher Amanda Melodia earned the win in five innings of work. She scattered just three hits and allowed one run while striking out one batter to help seal the victory.
Game 2: Linfield def. Whittier, 6-5
In game two, trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Whittier rallied to score three runs but fell short as Linfield held on for a 6-5 win.
Attaway got the late rally going for the Poets as her sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth pulled Whittier to within four at 6-2. In the home half of the seventh, Martinez smacked a two-run single to left center, before Janelle Ha powered an RBI base-hit to center. That's as close as the Poets could get, however, as a lineout ended the rally.