Three-for-Four

    After a 10–3 loss to NAIA opponent Concordia University, Jan. 23 in its only exhibition game, a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Championships seemed a reach for the UCSD softball team. But after last weekend’s series win against Western Oregon University, the Tritons may have returned to form.

    Ranked No. 2 nationally behind last season’s NCAA Division-II champion Valdosta State University, the Tritons fell in their first game to the Wolves 5–1 before taking a 6–2 win in the second game.

    “We couldn’t wait for today to be here, and we’re excited,” UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “We definitely would have liked two wins, but we learned a lot from the first game and then got stronger for the second.”

    UCSD swept the competition on day two on the backs of the bats of veteran sluggers Caitlin Brown, Mya Romero and Nicole Spangler, with the help of Triton newcomer Callie Grant. The Tritons took game three by a narrow 10–8 margin and capped the series with a big 7–0 victory.

    “Our defense is producing, and that’s definitely what kept us in the first game,” Gerckens said. “We just need to work on our defense. That’s what we expect; to put up a lot of runs this year.”

    UCSD will look forward to its first CCAA series this week, Feb. 6 to Feb. 9 against Cal State San Bernardino at RIMAC Arena.

    GAME 1 – UCSD 1, WESTEN OREGON 5

    With a depleted bullpen, Gerckens was forced to rely on sophomore right-hander Michelle Escamilla on the mound. The sophomore went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits. Escamilla was relieved in favor of freshman Alexis Edwards, newly added back to the Triton roster after spending time on the disabled list. Conversely, Western Oregon ace Hannah Pomeroy went the distance, allowing one run in her time in the circle.

    The Wolves took an early, as Amanda Evola hammered a homerun to take the 2–0 lead in the first inning. The Tritons earned one run back in the second, as Spangler singled down the middle to bring junior Mya Romero in to score. Western Oregon cemented the win in the sixth, with a three-run inning off a two-RBI double from Ashlie Gardner.

    GAME 2 – UCSD 6, Western Oregon 2

    Junior Mya Romero doubled for three RBI, putting UCSD up 4–0 at the start of the game.

    UCSD picked another two runs in the bottom of the third as Brown doubled. With Brown on third and Sepulveda on second, junior Dyanna Imoto singled to left field to score two runners.

    Evola came up big for Western Oregon again in the fifth inning, scoring two runners on a double to right field, but UCSD sophomore right-hander Kayla Hensel did well to limit the Wolves offense.

    The Triton starter went six innings, allowing just five hits and recording four strikeouts en route. Edwards brought in to finish, giving up just one hit in the seventh.

    GAME 3 – UCSD 10, Western Oregon 8

    In the closest game of the four-game series, the Tritons couldn’t play small ball. Escamilla gave up five runs in her 4.1 innings, while Edwards gave up three in just 1.1 innings. Fortunately, Brown and Spangler brought their bats.

    In the bottom of the first, with Spangler on first and Grant on third, Brown doubled down the left field line for two RBI. The Wolves evened the score in the third inning, scoring two runs off two hits.

    Spangler doubled to centerfield to pick up her first of three RBI in the game, while Mckenna Clewett stole home. The Wolves earned one run back off a Triton fielding error and got the go-ahead run in the fifth.

    Down 5–4, Spangler picked up two more RBI off a double, while Brown picked up her second season home run to put UCSD up 8–4. The Wolves came to within one, scoring three runs on two UCSD errors in the sixth.

    GAME 4 – UCSD 7, Western Oregon 0

    Going the distance, Hensel gave up just four hits in UCSD’s 7–0 series closer.

    The Tritons went up in the bottom of the first inning, as Grant doubled and advanced on a single from junior Taylor Sepulveda. Spangler brought the two home, putting the Tritons up 2–0. UCSD picked up two more runs in their first time round the batting order, taking advantage of two Western Oregon fielding errors to make the score 4–0.

    The Wolves had no response as Hensel retired the next six batters in order.

    UCSD went up 6–0 as Spangler came up big, batting in Grant. With two outs, and junior Emily McQuaid — pinch running for Spangler — on second and Brown on third, Romero singled to score Brown.

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