Tritons Finish 6–1 at Tourney of Champs

    Tritons Finish 6–1 at Tourney of Champs

    All-Tournament selections, Grant and Edwards, power UCSD to earn Platinum Bracket. 

    AS
    Photo by Alwin Szeto/Guardian

    Coming off of a four-game sweep a week earlier, the No. 19 nationally ranked UCSD softball team extended its impressive play last Friday through Sunday, finishing 6–1 on the road in the Tournament of Champions to earn the Platinum Bracket. After the successful string of contests, the Tritons now stand at 28–7 overall and first overall in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with a 17–3 record in conference action.

    Traveling to Turlock, California, UCSD kicked off the tournament with its first matchup against Chaminade University. The Tritons struggled early on as senior right-hander Jennifer Manuel allowed five runs, three earned, within the first four innings.

    However, at the bottom of the fourth, UCSD responded with three runs to trim the Chaminade advantage to 5–3. After three consecutive walks, a fielding error broke the Tritons’ scoreless streak to put the game at 5–1. Senior first-baseman Caitlin Brown followed with a two-run RBI single to pull UCSD back into contention.

    In the fifth, the Tritons rolled with their momentum as four hits and three Silversword errors drove in five more UCSD runs. One more run in the sixth inning finalized the Triton comeback victory at 9–5. Sophomore right-hander Hannah Duarte earned the win after pitching three scoreless innings in relief of Manuel.

    “We knew that we wanted take that first game just to get off on the right foot for the tournament,” Brown told the UCSD Guardian. “[Once] we hit the fourth or fifth inning, we talked to the team and said, ‘It’s time to wake up.’”

    In their second contest, the Tritons competed in a hard-fought loss to Dominican. UCSD was down early when Duarte walked in the opening run after the bases were loaded in the first inning.

    The Tritons continued to play from behind on the scoreboard, knotting the game at 2–2 in the sixth and entering the seventh and final inning down 5–2. UCSD nearly achieved another comeback with two runs in the final frame but fell short 5–4 with the tying run stranded at second.

    In their final game of the day, the Tritons faced No. 2 nationally ranked California Baptist University. Redshirt freshman first-baseman Emma Schneider opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning to give UCSD the early edge.

    The Tritons scored two more runs in the sixth inning to secure a 4–1 win for sophomore left-handed pitcher Alexis Edwards, who threw a complete game for the victory.

    On Saturday, UCSD recorded two more victories during day two’s doubleheader.

    First facing off against Hawaii Pacific University, the Tritons jumped ahead to a 2–0 lead in the second inning off a single from sophomore outfielder Callie Grant. The Tritons added another run in the fourth before Edwards closed out the game with another complete game and a shutout with the 3–0 win.

    In the nightcap, a four-run fifth inning for the Notre Dame de Namur tied up the game at four. However, three Triton runs in the final two frames returned the advantage to UCSD for a sweep of day two’s doubleheader. Edwards earned another victory as she pitched 2.2 scoreless innings.

    On Sunday, Edwards continued her dominant pitching as she powered UCSD to its first victory of the third day with a 1–0 defeat over Montana State-Billings. Edwards earned yet another complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and striking out six over seven innings.

    Despite her heroics, the sophomore Triton was quick to deflect credit for her flawless play.

    “I don’t think of it as me getting the win for the team. I think of it as me doing my job to the best of my abilities,” Edwards said. “I like to go into each game with the same attitude of just doing my best. I know that my team has my back, so even defensively they did a huge part.”

    The Tritons’ lone run came in the fourth when sophomore catcher Katie Saunders’s double drove Brown in for the score.

    In UCSD’s final contest of the tournament, the Tritons entered a shootout against Cal State East Bay before taking the game 8–5. The Pioneers started hot, hitting a grand slam to take an early 4–0 lead in the first inning.

    The Tritons were still down 5–2 in the fifth inning when Brown knocked in a three-run homer to knot the game at five. UCSD later produced three runs off of three hits in the following inning to clinch the Platinum Bracket with an 8–5 victory.

    Humboldt State would win the championship game of the tournament, earning the Gold Bracket over Sonoma State.

    Grant and Edwards were both named to the all-tournament team, with Grant finishing as the tournament’s batting champion. Grant batted a whopping .542 and scored seven runs, while Edwards went 5–0 with just a 0.46 ERA.

    The Tritons will now travel to play in a four-game series against CCAA opponent San Francisco State University. The series will be split into two doubleheaders starting on Friday and concluding Saturday.

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