UCSD Scores Road Win in NorCal, Sweeps Dixie at RIMAC

    Daniel Caddell/Guardian File

    SOFTBALL — The UCSD women’s softball players finally started seeing the fruits of their labor when they played San Francisco State on March 5-6, winning three of their four head-to-head games. The Tritons scored decisive wins in the two-day encounter, a reversal from last week’s series against Sonoma State that saw them drop three out of four. Following the series win in San Francisco, the Tritons came home to sweep nonconference opponents Dixie State College in a double header on March 9 at the RIMAC softball diamond.

    “We worked really hard in practice, and really knew this was our turning point,” junior infielder Jennifer De Fazio said. “We came together, finally started hitting like a team and executed everything we needed to make the necessary adjustments.”

    In the first game against San Francisco, the Gators only managed one run against sophomore Camille Gaito and junior Brittany Sheats, who worked the mound effectively. Gaito struck out seven Gators and allowed five hits throughout the game before Sheats relieved her, holding the San Francisco scoreless in the seventh inning.

    Although they initially struggled against the Gator pitching, the Tritons started to inflict damage once they made the necessary adjustments in their approach at the plate.

    In the third inning, sophomore outfielder Kellin Haley doubled in junior outfielder Kris Lesovsky to put the Tritons on the board and tie the score 1-1.

    Back-to-back doubles from captain senior catcher Nicole Saari and freshman infielder Nicole Spangler secured UCSD’s win, combining for three of five Tritons runs in the fifth inning. The Triton defense held off the Gators till the seventh inning and the team won 6-1.

    “Our hitting came together; we rallied a lot of runs together, and really merged as a team,” junior infielder Jennifer De Fazio said.

    Lesovsky was the star of Friday’s game, hitting a lead off homerun to left field to put the Tritons up 1-0 early. Costly errors in the third inning gave San Francisco State a run that tied the game, but the Tritons came back in the fourth inning thanks to a single from freshman infielder Katie Belanger that allowed junior outfielder Katrin Gabriel to score. Lesovsky’s sacrifice fly also brought home junior outfielder Lyndsay Gaylord.

    The Tritons finished off the day strong when sophomore pitcher Tess Granath struck out seven Gator hitters in the final 4.2 innings. After coming back from an injury in the fall, her career-high strikeout tally was another example of the Tritons’ strong pitching.

    “It’s great to see her back,” head coach Patti Gerckens said. “She did a great job, came in, and shut them down.”

    Saturday’s doubleheader began with the Gators scoring a 3-1 victory, threatening to earn a series split. However, in the second game, UCSD broke open a scoreless tie with nine runs in the final inning to claim the game 9-2, and the series 3-1.

    The Tritons took the lead in the first game, tacking on a run from a Saari double that scored junior infielder Sarah Woofter. However the UCSD offense would stagnate, and San Francisco State scored a winning total of three runs.

    “We are not where we want to be, but we are getting there with each game,” Gerckens said.

    Tritons bats came alive in the second game, posting a nine-spot on the scoreboard in the seventh inning. De Fazio started things off with a single to the centerfield, and was brought home by Saari’s bunt single for the first run of the game.

    Then, a tactical decision by Tritons hitters — to keep their weight on their back foot when at the plate — enabled them to drive their hands through the ball, hit outside pitches to the opposite field and string together base hits.

    “We came together to worked on getting players on the bases, moving them to scoring positions and eventually scoring our runners,” De Fazio said.

    The Tritons also executed with two outs, scoring seven more runs. Saari, Defazio, senior shortstop Mandi Eliades and Spangler each tallied two hits apiece. San Francisco State’s attempt to rally in runs fell short, ending the game 9-2.

    “We played our strength, did the little things right and came out winning,” Gerckens said.

    Tritons kept the ball rolling with a sweep of Dixie State College in their March 9 doubleheader at RIMAC. They won 8-2 in the first game and 3-2 in the second, propelling them to a 13-9 overall season record.

    The team will hope to carry their current form into a two-day doubleheader against conference rival Cal State Stanislaus on March 12 to March 13.

    Readers can contact Yvonne Chow at [email protected].

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