Toreros Cool Triton Softball’s Hot Start In Sweep of Doubleheader

After returning home from the Schutt Sports Leadoff Classic with losses in their last two tournament games, the UCSD women’s softball team continued its struggles with two blowout losses to crosstown rival the University of San Diego on Feb. 22.

The Tritons (9-6) took an early 4-1 lead in their first game against the Toreros (6-3), but could not quiet USD’s loud bats in the late innings. The Toreros rallied from a 4-2 deficit after three innings with 14 runs in the next three, including a nine-run sixth inning that put the Tritons behind 16-7 and eventually ended the game on the mercy rule by the same score.

UCSD did not fare much better in the latter of the two games, falling behind 4-1 after three innings, and never getting the offensive rally going it needed to overcome the deficit. While the Triton offense sputtered, USD put together a three-run fourth inning and a five-run seventh inning to cement their lead and a 12-2 victory.

The sweep, USD’s first over UCSD since the Tritons moved up to Division-II in 2000-01, came just days after the softball team returned from Arizona after winning its first three games, then losing its next two.

A strong weekend by the team came to an end Feb. 19 with an 11-4 loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills on the final day of the tournament. The Tritons left the three-day tournamentwith a tournament record of 3-2. The team boasted wins over Regis University, Western New Mexico University and Texas Woman’s University, before dropping games to No. 12 Emporia State, University of Kansas and Cal State Dominguez Hills. The results of the tournament bring the team to 9-4 for the year.

The Tritons breezed past the competition in their first game on Feb. 16, handing a 3-2 loss to Regis.

Sophomore pitching sensation Melissa Ward improved to a staggering 5-0 on the season after throwing her fifth complete game against Regis. Clutch hits from fellow sophomore infielder Elizabeth Vasquez, who went 3-for-4, and senior outfielder Jenny Spencer, who added two hits, aided Ward offensively.

In the second game, UCSD tallied another victory over Western New Mexico, 5-3. Sophomore second baseman Jenny Maze and junior third baseman Dallas Hernandez each muscled out home runs in the effort. Maze’s long ball was a two-run shot while Hernandez’s first career dinger was a solo homer.

Sophomore pitcher Nicole Fullerton tossed her second complete game of the season and improved her record to 2-1.

The Tritons returned to action on Feb. 17 against Texas Woman’s University. The win came easily to the Tritons, who beat the opposition 4-1.

Ward pitched a full seven innings in the contest, logging three strikeouts and bringing her to 6-0. Ward received run support from senior shortstop Desiree Franciscus, who knocked home Spencer, and Vasquez, who knocked out a solo shot. Maze joined in with a two-run home run that provided insurance for the Tritons in the win.

The victory gave the Tritons a 3-0 record by the end of the second day of competition, sending them into the gold bracket of the tournament.

UCSD next faced off against No. 12 Emporia State, who suffered a tough loss to No. 9 San Francisco State in its morning game. Though they battled fiercely, the Tritons dropped the game 3-0. The Hornets held UCSD scoreless for only the second time this season. Though she struck out four batters, Ward took her first loss of the year, falling to 6-1.

UCSD fell to Cal State Dominguez Hills in its last game of the tournament. Cal State Dominguez Hills shot to an early eight-run lead in the first, due in part to a grand slam.

The Tritons used three pitchers in the first inning as Cal State Dominguez Hills sent 12 batters to the plate. Fullerton, charged with the loss, fell to 2-2 on the season after allowing seven runs on three hits with four walks in only one-third of an inning.

Ward relieved Fullerton and managed to strike out a total of six batters.

The team will begin California Collegiate Athletic Association play with doubleheaders against No. 9 San Francisco State on Feb. 24 and Sonoma State on Feb. 25 at RIMAC field.