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Claremont, Calif. – Freshman pitcher Fiona Riley (Berkeley, Calif.) threw a two-hit shutout in the first game and earned the win with two innings of shutout relief in the nightcap as the Pomona-Pitzer Softball team swept two games from 22nd-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 5-0 and 2-1 on Friday afternoon in its final home games of the 2012 season.
With the wins, Pomona-Pitzer improves to 21-16 overall and 14-8 in the SCIAC and clinches no worse than the third seed in the SCIAC Tournament. CMS falls to 24-12 and 16-6 in the SCIAC, and closes out with two games against first-place Redlands tomorrow. If CMS loses both and Pomona-Pitzer takes two at Cal Lutheran, the Sagehens will take over the second seed in the conference tournament, which will be held at Redlands next weekend.
Freshman center fielder Leah Bleichner (Simi Valley, Calif.) capped off a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh in the nightcap to give the Sagehens the win, with a hard hit single to second baseman Emily Nordhoff with one out and the bases loaded. Nordhoff dove to knock the ball down and tried to fling the ball towards home plate to get sophomore Shannon Julius (Coronado, Calif.), but Julius beat the throw by three steps for the 2-1 victory.
It was a perfect bunt from Julius that helped open the floodgates in the seventh inning. Junior third baseman Kathryn Rabak (Grass Valley, Calif.) led off the seventh with a sharp single, and Julius put down a perfect bunt that bounced in between pitcher Hayley Schultz and third baseman Michaela Ecklund and rolled past the pitching circle for a single.
Freshman pitcher Jessica Liu (Alamo, Calif.) then sacrificed the runners over, and freshman left fielder Ashley Morello (Santa Cruz, Calif.) had the tying RBI with a slap to shortstop that was mishandled as pinch-runner Stephanie Boden (Atlanta, Ga.) raced home to knot the score 1-1.
Senior shortstop Ari Roach (Pinole, Calif.) then had a long at-bat as she fouled off numerous two-strike pitches before hitting a single down the left field line to load the bases. Bleichner then went the other way for the winning run, as Nordhoff had virtually no chance to get the out at the plate.
Liu threw the first five innings and allowed five hits, one of which was a solo homer to Harmony Palmer in the third which held up as the game's only run through the first six innings, before the Sagehens finally broke through against Schultz in the seventh. Pomona-Pitzer also played some spectacular defense to keep the game 1-0, including a diving stop at first base from senior Bri Marcantoni (Chino Hills, Calif.) and a diving catch of a sinking liner from Bleichner on back-to-back plays in the fifth.
Schultz had come into the opening game of the doubleheader in relief as Pomona-Pitzer scored five times in the first inning, and shut out the Sagehens for the final five innings of the opener and the first six innings of the nightcap before the two-run seventh gave her the tough-luck loss in her 13th inning of work.
The pitching star of the day, though, was Riley, who was in great command the whole way in the opener in recording a two-hit shutout, striking out five and walking one. She allowed only a single to Palmer in the third and a two-out double in the fourth to Amanda Banducci on her way to the shutout.
Offensively. Morello led things off in the opener with an infield single, and Roach sacrificed her to second. After Bleichner reached on an error and stole second, Marcantoni hit a two-run single up the middle. One out later, Cailtyn Hynes (Upland, Calif.) had a bloop double into shallow center to put runners on second and third, and senior Emily Buika (Long Beach, Calif.) and freshman second baseman Meagan Tokunaga (Albany, Calif.) had RBI singles to cap off the five-run inning.
Bleichner was 3-for-4 in the nightcap, while Liu was 2-for-2 in the opener and 1-for-2 in the nightcap for the Sagehens. Hynes finished the day 3-for-6, including 2-for-3 in the opener.
Pomona-Pitzer closes out the regular season at Cal Lutheran tomorrow for a 12 p.m. doubleheader