Game 2 Box Score
CLAREMONT, Calif. – An early season battle of nationally ranked softball programs from prominent conferences produced some exciting results Friday afternoon at Athena Field, where top-rated Linfield and No. 15 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps took turns pulling games out of the fire in the final inning.
Linfield rallied with three runs in the top of the seventh inning to capture the opener 8-7. Claremont responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to rescue a 5-4 result from the visiting Wildcats of the nightcap.
The Wildcats, in the midst of a 12-game tour of Southern California, saw their season record move to 11-2. The Athenas went to 19-8.
Linfield led 5-2 in the fourth inning, only to watch as Claremont exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Athenas torched Wildcats starter Claire Velaski for nine hits and seven earned runs before freshman Karina Paavola (Jr., Kelso, Wash.) took over to begin the sixth.
Paavola fanned three batters, including two in the bottom of the seventh, and surrendered just one hit over the final two frames to earn the win in relief.
A double by Staci Doucette in the seventh pulled the Wildcats to within 7-6. Moments later, Sami Keim delivered a sacrifice RBI along the right field line, allowing Emily Keagbine and Katy Brosig (Jr., Forest Grove, Ore.) to score the pivotal runs.
Emilee Lepp went 3-for-4, drove in a pair of runs and scored twice herself to power the ‘Cats at the plate. Keagbine and Alex Hartmann also provided a pair of hits and scored single runs in the contest.
The nightcap featured four lead changes, including some extra-inning fireworks by the Athenas, who plated the winning run with two outs in the eighth.
Amanda Banducci’s two-run double off the pitch of Paavola proved to be the difference in the see-saw battle.
The game stood tied at 3 after the regulation seven innings before Lepp powered a solo home run off CMS all-star Emma Friedenberg with one out in the eighth that gave the visitors a temporary advantage.
Back-to-back singles by CMS’s Michelle Harvey and Gizelle Pera set the table for Banducci’s game-changing heroics.
Lepp finished with two home runs in three trips to the plate, raising her season-total to eight fence-clearing blasts in 13 games.
COMING UP: Linfield heads to the southern side of the Los Angeles metropolitan area Saturday to face Chapman for a doubleheader at Hart Park in Orange. On Sunday, the Wildcats visit sixth-ranked Redlands in another battle of playoff-caliber teams.
Five hits, including team-leading eighth home run
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