Early Exit

     

    The UCSD softball team will not continue on to the NCAA National Tournament. This will be the first time in three seasons that the Tritons will not advance to the eight-team College World Series.

    UCSD ended its season at the double elimination West Subregional, where they lost to Humboldt State 7–1 in the tournament opener and Grand Canyon University 8–3. 

    The Tritons lost both matches in similar fashion, falling into a five-run deficit early in the game that would prove to be too deep a hole to emerge from. In the first game against reigning California Collegiate Athletics Association champions, first-seeded Humboldt State, the Lumberjacks scored five runs in the first inning on three hits, including a two-run homer. 

    Senior right-hander Michelle Escamilla (3–12) walked three men and gave up two hits and five runs in just 0.2 innings pitched. Her relief, freshman Alexis Edwards, fared better over her 4.1 innings but gave up back-to-back single-run home runs in the fourth.

    Possibly in an effort to preserve their arms, UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens sent out her big guns in game two against Grand Canyon University. Junior Jennifer Manuel (11–4) started for the Tritons, giving up five runs on five hits in the second inning. Similarly, after the second inning, Edwards was summoned, this time surrendering a two-run double in the sixth.

    Poor pitching — or, rather, poor pitching relative to that of last season’s All-American ace Camille Gaito — has been UCSD’s Achilles’ heel in 2013. The lineup has not changed much since last season, with the exception of now-absent All-American center fielder Kris Lesovsky. UCSD retained All-West Region selections junior Caitlin Brown and senior Nicole Spangler. The Tritons returned All-CCAA selections juniors Mya Romero and Kristin Willmon, brought on freshman Callie Grant and brought back All-CCAA selection redshirt sophomore Taylor Sepulveda from the disabled list, but it seemed like the formula that took the Tritons to back-to-back national tournament title games was just a little bit off.

    Without Gaito — who recorded an unheard of 0.75 ERA in her 2011 season — to hide behind, UCSD’s small-ball tactics couldn’t hold up, particularly against conference champions Humboldt State, which leads the nation in home runs per game (107 in 62 games played).

    Regardless, the Tritons (33–25 overall, 24–12 in the CCAA) still came away with some good results. UCSD ended regular season play in second place behind Humboldt and placed seven Tritons on the All-CCAA conference team. The Tritons also took the silver bracket title at the Mizuno Tournament of Champions held back in the beginning of April.

    Furthermore, UCSD will only graduate three from its lineup — Spangler, Escamilla and Dyanna Imoto — with the core group returning and ready for next season.

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