REDLANDS, Calif. -- In their ninth meeting of the season, Claremont-M-S beat Redlands 7-2 for the program's first NCAA regional title. As the winner of a regional, CMS advances to a super regional with the winner of the Tyler Regional for a best two out of three match up. The initial field of 62 teams narrows to just 16 in super regionals.
The battles with Redlands both this season and historically in playoffs are legendary. After dropping all four regular-season games to the Bulldogs this year, the Athenas have won four of five in post-season play during the last two weeks. CMS has captured three consecutive SCIAC tournament championships since 2012 after relinquishing the regular season title each year to Redlands. In each of those seasons, the Bulldogs received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and joined CMS in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, this year as the host institution and in the two previous years at Tyler, Texas.
In both 2011 and 2013, CMS faced Redlands in an elimination game in NCAA regionals with the Bulldogs ousting the Athenas from the tournament.
Finally the tides changed in 2014 as CMS eliminated Redlands from the NCAA tournament on their own field Saturday.
Junior ace Hayley Schultz started her third game of the tournament and blanked Redlands' hitters for six consecutive innings. While her teammates amassed 15 hits for the game, Schultz limited the Bulldogs to just two.
CMS knocked in the bottom of the second with hits by sophomore Carlene Roberts and freshmen Alexa Heydenberk but were unable to push a run across.
In the bottom of the third, sophomore Janelle Shiozaki doubled to centerfield to leadoff what would become a six-run inning for the Athenas. Sophomore Tara Robinson got on board with a single and then they both scored when sophomore Brooklyn Robinson launched one out to left field for a double. Sophomore Katie Savard reached with a single and scored off hit from senior Morgan Beltz.
Aided by heads up base running and capitalizing on a Bulldog error, CMS continued the inning. The Athenas batted around and Shiozaki delivered again with a two RBI single up the middle to cap off the scoring in the third.
Redlands' hopes of advancing a runner into scoring position were dashed when Beltz threw out speedster AJ Carrasco trying to steal second to end the top of the sixth.
Tara Robinson led the relentless Athena offense and slapped a single into left field to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. After stealing second base, she scored off a routine single into center field by Roberts to put CMS up 7-0.
The Athenas allowed two runs in the top of the seventh with a hit by Janelle Carrasco who ultimately scored. Behind Schultz, CMS defense buckled down for the 7-2 victory and regional championship.