WIth a 3-1 series defeat to Cal State San Bernardino, UCSD’s hopes of postseason evaporate.
UCSD’s softball played its final home series of the year when the team faced off against Cal State San Bernardino this past weekend. UCSD was swept in Saturday’s doubleheader and took just one of Sunday’s games, narrowly avoiding the series sweep against the California Collegiate Athletic Association foe. UCSD ends the season at 25–25 overall and a 15–21 conference mark.
UCSD took an early lead in the series opener on Saturday but eventually fell to the Coyotes in a 4–1 decision. Despite a strong performance by junior left-handed pitcher Alexis Edwards (11–10) in the circle, three errors in the field cost the Tritons three unearned runs, securing Cal State San Bernardino’s victory.
Freshman right-fielder Kelsi Maday started the Tritons off strong in the bottom of the second with a double to right field; a walk drawn by freshman catcher Lauren Sanders and a base hit by junior center-fielder Taylor Abeyta then loaded up the bases. Junior left-fielder Kristin George then drew another walk to push Maday in for the first and only run of the game for UCSD.
Cal State San Bernardino answered in the top of the third, putting up two unearned runs off an error by third base to give the Coyotes a 2–1 lead. The Coyotes increased the lead to three in the top of the sixth after their freshman third-baseman Kaylee Gemmell reached on an error by shortstop, scoring senior catcher Mary Menicucci. Senior outfielder Victoria Lievanos then hit an RBI double in the seventh to award San Bernardino the win.
In Saturday’s second game, the Coyotes jumped to an early lead. With senior shortstop Nicole Nobbe on base, Lievanos drove an RBI single into the field to give San Bernardino the advantage in the top of the third.
The Tritons broke through in the bottom of the fifth — junior shortstop McKenna Clewett drove a double deep into the field and advanced into scoring position off a sacrifice bunt by senior third-baseman Mo Omori. Freshman outfielder Emily Sklencar then drove Clewett home to tie the game at 1–1. However, a stellar sixth by the Coyotes put the game out of reach for UCSD. A single by Gemmell and a walk drawn by sophomore second-baseman Thalia Ortiz put two runs up on the board; junior outfielder Arianna Hernandez then hit a single to score two more and put Cal State San Bernardino at a four-run advantage. Ortiz then scored on the throw when the Tritons attempted to catch Hernandez at second, giving the Coyotes a 6–1 victory in the nightcap.
“Since we were such a young team, I think people didn’t really expect a lot from us this year,” sophomore designated player Bianca Devoto told the UCSD Guardian. “We proved to ourselves that we can compete and fight with any team, though. Even if we didn’t go as far as we planned to, I think we can take the chemistry, heart and spirit we showed this season to propel us into next year.”
UCSD returned to Triton Softball Field for Sunday’s makeup games and broke its four-game losing streak, beating the Coyotes 3–1 in the first game of the day. San Bernardino took the first lead of the game off an RBI double by Nobbe in the top of the third. However, the Tritons reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning when sophomore first-baseman Emma Schneider fired a two-run homer over the fence, putting her team at a one-run advantage. The big blue then put an insurance run up in the bottom of the sixth after Clewett reached base off an error by the Coyote center fielder, allowing Maday to score, unearned.
Triton freshman right-hander Rachel Phillips held the Coyote offense to just one run while giving up four hits and stranding three on base in the top of the fourth to keep UCSD in the lead. Edwards came in to relieve Phillips in the fifth, giving up just two hits in three innings and going three up, three down in the sixth to clinch the win.
UCSD got off to a fast start in game two of Sunday — with two outs, the Tritons hit three consecutive singles for the first RBI of the game. Sklencar then hit a single to reload the bases, and a walk drawn by Omori pushed Maday in to give the team a 2–0 lead.
Cal State San Bernardino closed the gap to one run in the fourth after Ortiz scored, unearned, off a single by junior first-baseman Melissa Roberts, then broke out to a commanding 6–2 lead in the top of the sixth. Menicucci took a hit from a pitch with the bases loaded to score freshman third-baseman Briana Quintana, then back-to-back singles by senior outfielder Alyssa Ramos and Lievanos set the score at 5–2; Ortiz then drove a single into the field to score run number six for the Coyotes.
The Tritons cut their deficit to two runs in the bottom of the sixth — with the bases loaded, sophomore first-baseman Ashley Chestnut hit a hard double to right field to bring the score to 6–4.
However, the team fell just short of a comeback — freshman right-handed pitcher Jamie Nelson retired three of four batters in the seventh to earn the series win for the Coyotes.
Even with a promising preseason outlook, this weekend’s losses leave the Tritons just short of claiming a berth in this year’s CCAA tournament. Despite a disappointing end to the season, however, the team looks forward to a strong group of returning players next season.