Softball continues to roll, earns three wins

    The UCSD softball team picked up a pair of league wins against California State University Stanislaus before splitting a doubleheader with Western New Mexico University over the weekend. Defense proved to be key, helping the Tritons improve to 14-2 overall and 7-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    Guardian file photo

    Friday’s first game with the Warriors of Stanislaus started well for the Tritons — they scored two runs in the first inning. A weak throw from the left fielder was unable to gun down Kim Aggabao when she scored from second on a two-out single by Leea Harlan. The Tritons added another unearned run in the first to lead 2-0.

    The Warriors came back in the top of the third inning to score a single run but could not sustain the rally, stranding two runners on base. After the early offense, the game settled into a rhythm, with neither side able to mount a serious threat. Harlan was strong on the mound for UCSD, allowing only four hits and one run while striking out 10 to go the distance for the 2-1 victory.

    Game two opened with the Tritons showing a new facet of their offense, stealing three bases during a three-run first inning. Mieko McCue’s two-out, two-run double was the big blow of the inning, bringing in Harlan and Christi Martinelli. The second inning brought more of the same, with UCSD scoring another three runs with the help of three stolen bases and a big two-out, two-run double, this time by Kristina Anderson.

    Head coach Patti Gerckens stressed that her club is looking to take advantage of opportunities on the bases.

    “”We want to be more aggressive than ever this year,”” she said. “”We want to keep other teams guessing.””

    On the mound, Martinelli had the Warrior batters guessing all day, surrendering only three hits and one run over six innings. With a two-run single by Anderson in the bottom of the sixth, the Tritons took an 8-1 lead into the final inning. Freshman pitcher Keri Hanley came in to try to close things out, but the Warriors roughed her up for two runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning before Martinelli returned to get the final out and seal the 8-3 win.

    UCSD’s Anderson, who paced the offense with four RBIs, commented afterward on her production.

    “”I’m just trying to help my team out,”” she said. “”We’re trying to score one run at a time, and more importantly, score throughout the game to support our pitchers.””

    Support would be crucial in Saturday’s first game against Western New Mexico, when pitcher Angela Slaugh came in fresh off a perfect game last week. Slaugh wasn’t perfect, but she was good enough, allowing only one run. The Lady Mustangs found their offensive stride in the fourth inning when they scored two runs off Harlan, but they were unable to make a big inning into a huge one when they left the bases loaded. The Tritons battled back for a single run in the fifth but Western New Mexico responded with another run in the sixth.

    Heading into the seventh inning, the Tritons trailed 3-1 and looked to get a rally started when everything fell apart.

    “”We were taking the little things for granted,”” Martinelli said. “”We didn’t make routine plays we know how to make, and our communication was definitely lacking.””

    The Tritons, who entered the weekend leading the CCAA in fielding percentage, committed two errors, a passed ball and several mental mistakes leading to a nightmarish inning in which the Lady Mustangs scored four times to seal their 7-1 victory.

    Breanne Cope doubled to open the third inning of the second game, setting up a two-run rally and getting the Tritons started. In the fifth inning, Cope again got the Tritons going with a hit and came around to score on Anderson’s sixth RBI of the weekend. Triton catcher Kristin Hunstad had the big hit of the inning with a bases-loaded single scoring two runs. However, it was Hunstad’s defensive contributions behind the plate that were most valuable to the Tritons.

    “”Kristin is incredibly strong behind the plate,”” Martinelli said. “”She calls a great game and does a great job of keeping my spirits up and helping me to have a good time out there.””

    The Lady Mustangs scratched out two unearned runs in the top of the sixth but it was too little, too late as UCSD finished with a 6-2 win.

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