Softball loses four athletes who raised program

    Over the past four years, the UCSD softball team has amassed an impressive 121-69 record and has grown into one of the best teams in the region. That rise was not without the significant contributions of four seniors who will leave the program this year.

    Photos courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Kristina Anderson, Leea Harlan, Samantha Hayes and Christi Martinelli are at the end of their Triton sports careers, but they leave behind a list of accomplishments and accolades suggesting that they will be gone but not forgotten.

    Anderson, UCSD’s starting left-fielder, is a career .317 hitter who was a solid batter in the Triton lineup all four years. She led the team with an incredible .404 batting average her freshman year and has found her name on the lineup card ever since. Anderson started in 175 of the Tritons’ 190 games over her four years, and she also picked up big hits while playing a solid defensive outfield. In her senior season, she was named as an honorable mention to the All-California Collegiate Athletic Association Softball Team.

    All the Triton players said the friendships they made on the team are a large part of what has made their UCSD experience special. None of them would know better about the interactions between people than second baseman Hayes, who majors in human development with a minor in sociology.

    Hayes hit a career-high .288 this season, despite having her playing time limited due to an injury that cost her much of the first part of the year. Her return helped push the Tritons toward their birth into the West Region playoffs, where they received the third seed.

    In her split season, Hayes has no problem picking out her favorite moment.

    “”Senior day,”” Hayes said. “”We played as a team and it was a very memorable day. We came through and did a great job.””

    On that day, Hayes had two hits, scored a run and drove in three runs, but it was another senior who grabbed the headlines when Harlan pitched a one-hitter for one of her 60 wins as a UCSD pitcher.

    Harlan led the Tritons in wins for three of her four years, and she amassed an incredible 677.1 innings while holding an ERA of only 1.45. While beating up on Division III competitors her sophomore year, Harlan earned 15 victories and allowed less than one run per game.

    Mixing a variety of pitches with a deadly change-up, the move to Division II hardly slowed Hayes down, since she earned All-CCAA Second Team honors in both her junior and senior campaigns.

    For all Hayes has given to the program, she is quick to note that the program has given back to her as well.

    “”Part of the reason I decided to come here was that this organization is designed for making players better and making itself better. UCSD is a very special place to me,”” Harlan said. “”I just wish everybody was as lucky as I am to have something in their life like I had.””

    Harlan will be around next year when she finishes up her studies in math and computer science, but another Triton ace and All-CCAA member will be moving to Pasadena, Calif.

    Martinelli will leave San Diego with her degree in communication and religious studies, and is considering attending seminary. As this minister of the mound moves on to other pulpits, she can only hope that she’ll be as successful off the field as she was on it.

    When she started playing UCSD softball her junior year, Martinelli gave the Tritons a second pitching option to compliment Harlan. The two worked out brilliantly together; Martinelli matched Harlan’s 17-win total in the 2001 season and then went on to better it with a 20-win mark this past year. Opposing batters were consistently left shaking their heads when Martinelli blazed a rising fastball past them and notched 208 strikeouts — more than one for every inning she pitched. Although her individual numbers are outstanding, Martinelli finds her joy in the team.

    “”It’s about just being able to work alongside a group of girls that I love and respect, and working as a group toward a common goal,”” Martinelli said.

    While a few of that group will graduate this year, the accomplishments of these Triton seniors will be remembered by their teammates in coming seasons while they strive to maintain the standard of excellence that has been established. That will be no easy task, however, because these seniors leave big shoes to fill and footprints that won’t soon fade.

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