UCSD softball had a strong showing in the Tournament of Champions, where they defeated Chaminade University, Hawaii Pacific and Notre Dame de Namur.
The UCSD softball team hit the road for the Tournament of Champions this past week at Pedretti Sports Complex in Turlock, California. The big blue faced off against five different teams and took three of five games, bringing their record to 19–4 overall and earning their fifth and sixth shutouts of the season against Chaminade University of Honolulu and Notre Dame de Namur.
UCSD started Friday off strong with a come-from-behind victory against Hawaii Pacific (17–14). The Sharks attacked first — a double by first-baseman Noelani Boyer yielded the first RBI of the game. A homer by right-fielder Kiana Wolfe and an unearned run by center-fielder Keila Elderts in the top of the third brought the score to 3–0.
The Tritons countered in the bottom of the third when freshman third-baseman Rachel Phillips scored off a wild pitch to narrow the gap. However, the turning point came in the bottom of the sixth. With freshman second-baseman Kendall Baker and junior left-fielder Kristin George on base, freshman designated player Lauren Sanders hit a huge three-run homer to center field, leading UCSD to a 4–3 victory.
“The energy my teammates have keeps the adrenaline going,” Baker told the UCSD Guardian. “We are always good about motivating each other and keeping each other checked in to what’s happening in the game.”
Sanders continued her strong play in game two against Chaminade (7–28) — the freshman hit a single to right-center field in the first inning and brought Baker home for the first run of the game. UCSD continued to post runs up on the board — George earned a base hit in the second to send freshman outfielder Emily Sklencar home, then popped a sacrifice fly up in the fourth, bringing junior outfielder Taylor Abeyta in. Base hits by junior shortstop McKenna Clewett in the fifth and sophomore first-baseman Emma Schneider in the sixth increased the Tritons’ lead to five.
A homer by freshman right-fielder Kelsi Maday followed by hits by Sklencar and George in the final inning earned the Tritons a decisive 8–0 victory and marked the team’s fifth shutout of the season.
UCSD struck first again in game three of Friday against Dominican University of California (6–22) — Sanders pounded a homer to left-center field — her second of the day — in the fourth inning, putting up the first run on the scoreboard.
“My expectations for myself are not necessarily just hitting home runs,” Sanders told the Guardian. “I just want to help my team out the best I can at the plate, score runners and get myself on base.”
Baker notched another run after four consecutive walked batters in the top of the fifth — but the Penguins responded this time around. A double by shortstop Catlyn Cavender earned two RBIs for the Penguins, and a sacrifice fly by third baseman Tayler Munoz pushed Dominican into the lead. Another base hit by Shannon Rodriguez sent Cavender home, widening the gap to two runs.
The big blue came back in the sixth and leveled the score — a single by sophomore pinch hitter Ashley Chestnut and a sacrifice fly by Schneider evened the game at four. However, Dominican returned in the bottom of the sixth with four more runs, establishing a lead that proved too difficult for the Tritons to overcome. UCSD tried to come back in the top of the seventh, but the rally fell short, and the Tritons dropped a 6–8 loss.
The Tritons returned to Pedretti Sports Complex on Saturday in a close matchup against Western Washington University (17–13). The Vikings struck first, establishing a commanding five-run lead in the first inning of the game. However, junior left-handed pitcher Alexis Edwards was able to stop the Vikings’ offense in its tracks, giving up five hits and no runs for the remainder of the game.
UCSD staged a slow but steady comeback starting in the bottom of the first — a single by Clewett sent George home, cutting the Tritons’ deficit to four. Maday popped a single out to center field in the bottom of the third, allowing Baker to score run number two. Baker scored again in the fifth to bring the score to 3–5.
The Tritons made their final attempt to make up for lost runs in the final frame — with two runners on base, Sklencar took a hit from a pitch and loaded up the bases. Clewett then pushed Schneider home after getting hit by another wild pitch, narrowing the gap to one run. UCSD was unable to level the score and dropped a close 4–5 decision.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hannah Duarte returned to the mound in the fifth and final game of the tournament against Notre Dame de Namur (14–15) in a six-inning pitchers’ battle. Duarte pitched a no-hitter until the sixth inning — but Argonaut pitcher Shelby Reali proved to be just as strong, giving up only four hits and no runs.
However, after six scoreless innings, UCSD broke the silence: With the bases loaded, Maday hit a single to left field to drive Schneider home for the game winning run and the Tritons’ sixth shutout of the season.
“When I’m on the mound, all my focus is on hitting my spots and staying relaxed,” Duarte commented. “I see my teammates working hard and doing everything they can to keep us in the game, so I fight just as hard.”
The Tritons are on the road again next week against California Collegiate Athletic Association opponent Chico State.