Tritons Suffer Season’s First CCAA Sweep

    Photo by Alwin Szeto/GUARDIAN
    Photo by Alwin Szeto/GUARDIAN

    No. 15 UCSD dropped all four games of conference series against No. 8 Humboldt.

     

    Photo by Alwin Szeto/GUARDIAN
    Photo by Alwin Szeto/GUARDIAN

    After a disappointing series split the previous week, the No. 15 UCSD softball team suffered an even more devastating slate of games this past Friday and Saturday, as California Collegiate Athletic Association opponent No. 8 Humboldt State University swept the Tritons 4–0 in Arcata, Calif. UCSD now holds a 30–13 overall record and is 19–9 in CCAA action.

    The series was critical, as UCSD sits in third in conference standings, right under Humboldt State in second.

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    “It was definitely a crucial series,” UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens said. “To be swept by them is very disappointing for us. I was definitely hoping to sweep the series, if not split the series because they are a good team.”

    In spite of the tough losses, the Tritons have already clinched a playoff berth for the upcoming CCAA championships in early May.

    In the first matchup of the series, UCSD earned the first lead of the game at 1–0 when senior third baseman Emily McQuaid singled in senior outfielder Kirsten Willmon for a third-inning score. However, in the bottom of the inning, the Lumberjacks fired back with an onslaught of seven runs to build what would be too daunting a lead for the Tritons to overcome.

    UCSD scored one run in the fourth inning, but a final score of 9–2 by Humboldt easily downed the Tritons. Sophomore left-hander Alexis Edwards (17–7) had an uncharacteristically rough outing on the mound, allowing a season-high seven earned runs on six hits in only 2.1 innings pitched.

    “The first game, I did have an off day,” Edwards said. “[Of] course I wanted a different outcome, but [sophomore right-hander] Hannah [Duarte] had my back and came in.”

    In Friday’s nightcap, the Tritons led 3–2 after the top of the fourth inning despite an early 2–0 Lumberjack advantage. However, in the bottom of the frame, Humboldt knocked in three more runs to reclaim a 5–3 edge. The Lumberjacks added one more run and shut out the Tritons the rest of the way en route to a 6–3 win.

    On Saturday, UCSD continued to struggle as the Tritons were held scoreless in a 2–0 defeat. While Edwards allowed only three hits, a season low for Humboldt State, the Tritons failed to plate any runs, resulting in the left-hander’s fourth consecutive loss of the season.

    “We had a bunch of opportunities,” McQuaid said. “[It’s tough] holding them to three hits, and we still can’t get a runner across. It comes down to getting the timely hit and wanting it more.”

    In the fourth and final game, the Tritons lost their second straight 13-inning series closer. With UCSD up 4–3, the Lumberjacks took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-run homer. The Tritons responded, forcing extra innings with a two-out, single run batted in from sophomore outfielder Amani Proctor in the top of the seventh.

    However, six scoreless innings and a combined 12 stranded runners later, Humboldt singled in the walk-off run to take the game 6–5 and finalize the series sweep.

    Gerckens expressed optimism amid the bitterness of losing the marathon game.

    “It was extremely disappointing, extremely exhausting,” Gerckens told the Guardian. “[But] we learned so much about them. I think our confidence is higher than ever in knowing they can be beat.”

    Proctor finished with five hits, a career high, while Willmon racked up three hits herself. Senior right-hander Jennifer Manuel exited after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing five earned runs. Edwards, who stepped in for relief, took another loss despite a strong effort, surrendering only one earned run after pitching 7.1 innings.

    UCSD will return home this Friday from a 15-game road swing to close out the season. The Tritons, who have now dropped five straight games, will host a struggling CCAA squad in Cal State Dominguez Hills starting on Friday, April 25 and concluding the following day.

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