Back on Track

    After a difficult start of the season, UCSD softball is looking up after a series win over Chico State.

    Photo by Cory Wong
    Photo by Cory Wong

    The Triton softball team was on the road again this weekend against California Collegiate Athletic Association foe Chico State, taking three of four games from the Wildcats and shifting up to sixth in the league standings. UCSD swept Friday’s doubleheader, shutting out Chico State 1–0 in game one and 3–0 in game two, then earning an 8–6 win in game one on Saturday to take the series win. The Tritons’ record is now 12–12 in the CCAA and 22–16 overall.

    The first game became a pitcher’s duel between junior right-handed pitcher Hannah Duarte (10–7) and Wildcat freshman pitcher Haley Gilham: Gilham held strong for seven innings, only giving up five hits and holding the score leveled at 0–0, driving the game into extra innings. Duarte came out on top, though, giving up three hits, three walks and striking out three in eight innings of play.

    The UCSD offense finally broke through in the top of the eighth inning. Singles by freshman catcher Lauren Sanders and junior shortstop McKenna Clewett got the ball rolling for the Tritons. An error by Wildcat senior third baseman Courtney Brown then put freshman outfielder Kelsi Maday on the bag. With bases loaded, sophomore pinch hitter Bianca Devoto drew a walk, pushing freshman second baseman Kendall Woken, who was pinch running for Sanders, home for the first and only run of the game.

    Duarte then retired three of four batters in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win for the Tritons.

    “I have a mantra written on one of my shoelaces actually,” Duarte told the UCSD Guardian. “It’s Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It’s just a simple reminder to stay within myself and keep my confidence up.”

    UCSD earned a 3–0 win in Friday’s game two, shutting out Chico State for the second time that day and marking the Tritons’ first doubleheader sweep since their games against Cal State Stanislaus on Feb. 21.

    The big blue attacked first in the top of the fourth — singles by freshman outfielder Kendall Baker and junior outfielder Kristin George started the inning for UCSD. However, Chico State retired the next two batters in the lineup. Clewett then stepped up to the plate and knocked a bunt to third base, sending Baker running for home plate and notching the first run up on the scoreboard. Maday fired the game-winning shot, sending a hard double to right field for two more RBIs and securing the win for UCSD.

    “Both games on Friday were really close,” Devoto told the Guardian. “We had to put up a tough fight for every inning and it really just showed the fight we could give coming into Saturday’s games.”

    The Tritons were in it for the long haul in Saturday’s first game — a seventh-inning rally by Chico State pushed the game into extra innings, but UCSD racked up two runs in the top of the 10th, pulling off an 8–6 win and capturing the series win.

    The big blue got an early start in the first when a double by Devoto yielded the first RBI. The Wildcats countered in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly by senior shortstop Emily McEnaney, then pulled into the lead in the bottom of the third when a double by junior outfielder Amanda Cordeiro brought two more runners home and set the score at 3–1.

    UCSD tied the score up at 3–3 in the top of the fourth. The Tritons increased their lead to three in the top of the fifth — a single by Devoto, a double by Maday and a walk drawn by Clewett loaded up the bases; Devoto then scored off a wild pitch to pull UCSD into the lead and Chestnut sent a double to right field for two more RBIs and a 6–3 advantage.

    Chico State narrowed the gap to one run in the sixth. Three walked batters loaded the bases, and a double to left field by junior outfielder Alli Cook earned two more runs for the Wildcats. Senior pinch runner Katy Weger then scored off a walk, tying up the score at six and pushing the game into extra innings for the second time of the series.

    The UCSD offense came alive after two more scoreless innings — Schneider started the 10th frame off with a double to right center, and with two outs on the board, George got a base hit and set Schneider up to score. Devoto then returned to the plate and blasted another double into the field, driving George and Schneider home for the game-winning runs.

    The blue and gold made a play for the series sweep in the finale on Saturday. Junior outfielder Taylor Abeyta scored a run off a single by freshman third baseman Rachel Phillips, giving the Tritons an early lead. However, Chico State fought back, notching up one run in the fourth to tie the score and two runs in the fifth to pull ahead for a 3–1 win, denying UCSD the final win.

    “As a team, we’re just focusing on our consistency now,” Devoto said. “We just need to play each game inning by inning to achieve our larger goals of a CCAA and NCAA championship.”

    The Tritons will return home next weekend to face off against CCAA top seed Humboldt State.

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