The UCSD softball team rounded out its regular season by sweeping conference and regional rivals Cal State San Marcos in a doubleheader Wednesday at Cal State San Marcos Softball Field and clinching the third ticket out of four in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament. By beating the Cougars, the Tritons will return to their sixth CCAA tournament appearance after a year of absence. The doubleheader concluded with Tritons beating the Cougars 5–4 in overtime of game one and 5–2 in game two.
UCSD will end its regular season with an overall record of 33–19 and 23–15 in CCAA. Cal State San Marcos was unable to secure a spot in the CCAA Tournament with a 10–32 overall and 7–25 in conference.
Game 1 – UCSD 5, CSUSM 4
Coming into Cougar territory, the Tritons’ magic number was one. This meant they either needed one more win or Sonoma State to lose against Cal State Dominguez Hills. UCSD would not rely on the latter. In an exciting turnabout, the Tritons rallied from a 4–1 deficit to win it all in the eighth inning.
Game one started off uncharacteristically, with UCSD getting into a jam after committing several errors and giving up three runs in the first inning. In fact, the offense was unable to get into a rhythm as the Tritons only managed two hits in the first four innings.
UCSD shifted gears in the fifth inning by scoring four runs on five hits. With one out, senior outfielder Taylor Abeyta, sophomore second baseman Kendall Baker and sophomore outfielder Kelsi Maday all laid out bunt singles. Cougars’ junior pitcher Ashley Dagenais walked freshman outfielder Caitlyn Weisner, moving all the runners and scoring Baker; Abeyta was then able to score on a sacrifice fly from senior shortstop McKenna Clewett while sophomore designated player Emily Sklencar and freshman second baseman Darian Van Der Maaten both singled and brought home Maday and Weisner, respectively. By the end of the inning, UCSD took the lead 4–3.
Cal State San Marcos was quick to respond with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning after capitalizing on a fielding error by Van Der Maaten. After two more scoreless innings, the game was tied 4–4 and was headed into overtime.
However, the Tritons managed to win the game in the eighth inning on Abeyta’s two-out single through which brought home Baker, who had previously doubled to left center field.
Senior lefthanded pitcher Lexi Edwards got the win after allowing one earned and three unearned runs in 5.1 innings, allowing the Tritons to put up five runs on 10 hits and solidify their spot in the CCAA tournament.
Game 2 – UCSD 5, CSUSM 2
Even after clinching playoffs, UCSD refused to dial it back. Right off the bat, the Tritons scored two runs in the first inning. Baker and Abeyta both singled into left field and advanced to third and second on a sacrifice bunt from Maday, respectively. Weisner then plated Baker on another single to left field and Abeyta eventually reached home on a sacrifice fly by Clewett.
The Cougars managed to tie the game 2–2 by scoring in both the first and second inning. In the first, senior outfielder Caylyn Rodriguez singled and reached second on a sacrifice bunt. Senior infielder Melyssa Bellamy then doubled and brought in Rodriguez. In the second inning, Rodriguez doubled and brought home sophomore infielder Karla Bernal.
Maday traveled from base to base in fashion during the third inning. After singling to right field, she advanced to second on the account of Weisner being hit by a pitch. Maday then stole third and reached home on an error by outfielder Rylee Johnson.
UCSD scored a couple more insurance runs in fourth and sixth inning on infield singles. In the fourth, Baker hit a ball to the second baseman and batted in freshman designated player Sklencar. At the top of the sixth, sophomore outfielder Kendall Woken hit a bunt single that plated senior outfielder Kristin George and made the score 5–2.
Cal State San Marcos was shut down after the first two innings by UCSD’s rising-star freshman righthanded pitcher Lauren Brown who pitched a complete game with two-earned runs on seven hits while striking out five. She got the win and moved to a 12–6 record for the season.
UCSD will head on to the CCAA Tournament where it will compete among the other top teams in the conference. The Tritons will play as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed and will compete with No. 1 seed and top West Region team Humboldt State, No. 2 seed Chico State and Sonoma State for a direct qualification in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regionals.