Mission: playoffs

Round two.

Guardian File photo

The UCSD softball team returns to California Collegiate Athletic Association action this year after proving itself in its 2001 inaugural season in Division II.

Coach Patti Gerckens led the Tritons to a 34-17 record against well-established Division II teams last year.

This year, the loss of four crucial seniors puts extra responsibility on the entire team along with the seven rookies who joined the UCSD squad. Gerckens will look toward her five seniors to fill leadership roles and to guide the team toward victory. With her 11 returning players, Gerckens’ team will be a force to reckon with in 2002.

Second baseman Kim Aggabao will once again play a key role in the Triton short game. She led the 2001 squad in sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies. Playing in all 51 games last season, Aggabao studied the competition in Division II and is certain that the 2002 team will be a potent component of the CCAA.

“”We are coming back strong this season,”” commented Aggabao. “”We have a strong core of girls, and our rookies have caught on to our game plan very quickly.””

Also returning for UCSD is sophomore shortstop/third baseman Amy Mettee, who led last year’s team with a .382 batting average, a .554 slugging percentage, 29 runs scored, 60 hits, 7 triples, 87 total bases, 11 stolen bases and 177 plate appearances. Mettee returns to her second year on the Triton team stronger, more competitive, and more learned of the competition that she and her teammates will face together.

“”Together”” is the key word. Teamwork and support are prime focal points of the 2002 UCSD softball team.

“”Determination and hard work influence our play, but our main focus this season is going at the game as a team,”” Aggabao said. “”We set goals at each practice and strive to achieve them together in an effort as though we are one unit.””

While in the dugout, team members encourage the batter at the plate. Defensively, the infield and outfield rally round their hard-working hurlers.

Splitting the time at pitcher, seniors Leea Harlan and Christi Martinelli resume their place on the mound for the Tritons. Harlan and Martinelli, with 1.48 and 2.29 earned run averages, respectively, provide a sound foundation of composure and poise teamed with speed and skill for UCSD.

The attitude of the UCSD team is contagious. It heads into the season secure in its ability as a team, and is committed to surpassing the competition.

UCSD’s rival, UC Davis, will be that competition this year. The Tritons split their four-game bout with the Aggies 2-2 in 2001, and will now look to defeat them in UCSD’s first CCAA home game of the year on Feb. 8.

The Tritons continue their opening home stand against Chico State, which UCSD defeated three out of four times last season, and will then battle the Coyotes of CSU San Bernadino, who went 0-4 against the Tritons in 2001.

With speed, skill, strength, control, experience and heart on their side, the coaches and the players of the 2002 UCSD Triton softball team are ready for CCAA action.

“”We have what it takes to win the conference,”” Aggabao said. “”It’s up to us to take care of business.””