LA VERNE, Calif. — Alexis Schiff launched a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and the La Verne softball team looked poised to force a do-or-die championship game against No. 14 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
But with two on and one out in the same inning, Raeleen Tellez hit a screamer right at the first baseman that turned into a double play and the Athenas struck right back in the top of the seventh to beat the Leopards, 4-2, in the 2016 SCIAC Softball Postseason Tournament final at Campus West.
With the win, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps claims the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship Tournament.
The Leopards' fate is now in the hands of the NCAA selection committee for a possible at-large bid. The NCAA Division III Softball Selection Show will air at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Monday, May 9 on NCAA.com.
La Verne gave up three straight singles in the top of the seventh but the third single—an in-betweener that left the runner on second on no-man's land—led to a force out and the Leopards looked to get out of the inning unscathed as Katherine Kibbe induced a weak grounder to the next batter. However, Tara Robinson came through with a two-out double to left field to plate two runs and the Athenas held on for the 4-2 win.
La Verne had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh. After a leadoff out, the Leopards loaded the bases on an error, a single and a hit by pitch to set the table for sluggers Mackenzie Dutton and Schiff.
But Lady Luck scorned the Leopards once again. Dutton slapped a hard grounder right at the second baseman which allowed the Athenas to come home for the force and Schiff laced one to the third baseman who stepped on her bag to end the game.
The Athenas had a chance break the game open right out of the gate but Kibbe danced out of a jam to keep the Leopards within striking range. After making an out to start the game, the Athenas strung together three straight singles to load the bases, but Kibbe forced Briana Halle into a fielder's choice and got out of the inning with just one run allowed.
The Leopards end the season with a 31-10 overall record while the Athenas will take a 33-8-1 record to the regionals.