How the West Was Won

The No. 24 Tritons topped the No. 10 Toros in the best of three game series in Carson, Calif. at Dominguez’s home field, snapping the Toros’ perfect 28–0 home record.

UCSD fell 4–3 in the first game of the series, but took the last two games 1–0 to take the West Region title.

On Friday, May 11, UCSD went up 3–0 in the third inning as sophomore Kirsten Willmon recorded a triple to bat in senior center-fielder Kris Lesovsky. UCSD scored two more runs on a throwing error. The Triton defense was unable to hold the lead, as UCSD recorded two infield errors, allowing the Toros four runs on three hits.

“We felt that the only people that were going to take it from us were ourselves,” sophomore catcher Caitlin Brown said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “We knew going in that we were going to have to come out hard…We were never really worried about them coming back.”

The Tritons won the second game in extra innings off a walk-off home run from Brown.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate before that at-bat, so I just told myself to relax and see the ball.” Brown said. “I knew [Gaito] was getting tired out there, as she should be, after pitching eight innings, so I just did what I had to do for my team.”

In the decider, UCSD recorded a run in the first inning. Senior ace Camille Gaito (29–10) took control from there, going the distance, while allowing only three hits. The 2011 All-American and 2012 All-West Region selection has pitched the last 12 games for the Tritons, and will likely remain on the mound for the Tritons throughout the World Series. The All-American has already pitched all 53 innings of the NCAA Division II tournament for the Tritons, with a 0.66 ERA in her eight games thus far.

“On day two, my pitches were working a lot better, I was hitting my spots, which allowed our defense to do more work,” Gaito said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “So I just stepped up my game a little bit and my fielding, and my defense just had my back all day.”

UCSD will now advance to the College World Series for the second time in program history, as they look to defend their national title. As West Region Champions, UCSD will face the winners of the South Region, Valdosta State (53–4) this Wednesday, May 16 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The eight-team double-elimination tournament will also feature the regional winners from around the nation: Atlantic region representative Kutztown, Central region representative Augustana, Midwest region representative St. Joe, East region representative Southern Connecticut State, South Central representative Central Oklahoma and South East representative Flagler.

UCSD will be the only squad to qualify for the World Series twice in the past two years.

“I think the experience [of being in the NCAA Championships before] is going to be helpful, but this is a brand new team,” UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “We’re not trying to defend [our national title], we’re just trying to win another one. It’s totally different chemistry and we’re just excited to be going to the show again.”

The Tritons will have their work cut out for them in Louisville. UCSD’s first opponent, Valdosta State, is currently ranked No. 1 nationally. The Blazers took all 16 first place votes, and have the fourth lowest earned run average in the nation, allowing just 1.22 runs a game.