Softball wins 3 of 4

    Given an opportunity to extend its lead in the California College Athletic Association standings, the UCSD softball team went 3-1 against the conference’s weakest teams to improve to 19-7 overall, 11-5 in conference, and was two outs away from a perfect weekend.

    The San Francisco State Gators came to town for a Friday doubleheader but were greeted rudely when the Tritons took the opening game 9-1. Leea Harlan was strong on the mound for UCSD, allowing only four hits and a single run. Kim Aggabao led the offense on her 20th birthday with a pair of doubles and three RBIs, while Kristin Hunstad also added a pair of RBIs.

    The second game began with more of the same when the Tritons scored twice in the first inning on Kristina Anderson’s RBI triple and Samantha Hayes’ RBI double. UCSD didn’t score for the next two innings, but Christi Martinelli was spectacular on the mound, taking a perfect game into the fourth inning.

    When the Gators got their lone hit off Martinelli — a solo home run by Rachel Darrow — the lead was reduced to 2-1 and the Triton offense responded by turning it up a notch.

    Hayes led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and Martinelli followed with a single of her own. A groundout, sacrifice bunt, hit batter, two errors and a two-run homer by Mettee later, the Tritons led 6-1.

    Martinelli handed the ball over to Keri Hanley in the sixth, and Hanley pitched the last two innings for UCSD, allowing one run but preserving the 6-2 win.

    Jamie Hurst had two hits on the day and played solid defense behind the plate after a two-year hiatus from catching an intercollegiate game. After the game, she commented on turning things around after last weekend’s 1-3 road trip.

    “”It’s good for us to get a couple of wins and start to play like we can,”” Hurst said.

    Triton head coach Patti Gerckens agreed.

    “”It’s refreshing,”” she said. “”We got a little wake-up call last weekend and now we’re back.””

    Coming off a sweep of the cellar-dwelling Gators, the Tritons’ next foe was found in the CCAA’s second-worst team, the Cossacks of Sonoma State University.

    The Cossacks managed to scratch out the game’s first run in the top of the first inning, but it took UCSD only one batter to respond as Mettee lined a home run to left center field in the bottom half of the inning. The Triton offense picked up three more runs in the second, highlighted by Anderson’s two-out, two-run single.

    Mettee’s leadoff double in the fourth led to another UCSD run and the Tritons looked to be cruising, up 5-1 after four innings.

    After picking up a run in the fifth inning to close to within three, the Cossacks refused to die in the seventh. The inning began with a single and a passed ball — then the game became controversial.

    Cossack Stephanie Camara hit a groundball to shortstop, and Aggabao, the Sonoma State runner, and the ball all arrived at the same place at the same time. After the umpires conferred and ruled no interference, Gerckens and the umpires debated for 10 minutes. In the end, however, the runners stayed at first and third, leaving UCSD in a jam.

    Harlan gave up a sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning, but the Cossack bats refused to be silenced. Five consecutive hits and five runs later, Gerckens replaced Harlan with Martinelli, but the Tritons still couldn’t score in the bottom half of the inning. In the end, UCSD dropped the heartbreaker 7-5.

    With no time to dwell on the first game, the Tritons returned to the field for game two, determined not to make the same mistake again. Mettee led off UCSD’s first inning with a double and was brought home on Harlan’s sacrifice fly.

    Mettee also had an RBI single in the third and came around to score on Harlan’s bases-loaded triple. Not to be outdone, Anderson, a senior, followed with her first home run since her freshman year to close the scoring at 7-0.

    “”In the second game we brought the focus back to playing our game and playing as a team,”” Anderson said.

    Despite the players’ focus on the team, the weekend had some amazing individual performances, with Mettee going 9-for-13 at the plate, scoring eight runs, driving in four and hitting two home runs. Martinelli also had an excellent weekend, pitching 15 and one-third innings while allowing only one run and three hits and picking up two wins.

    The Tritons will attempt to take their momentum on the road when they face Chico State and UC Davis March 15 and March 16.

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