Softball Suffers Four-Game Sweep Against CCAA Leader Humboldt State

    Photo By Jesus Pacheco
    Photo By Jesus Pacheco

    Tritons drop to seventh place in CCAA rankings.

    Photo By Jesus Pacheco
    Photo By Jesus Pacheco

     

    The UCSD softball team returned to Triton Softball Field this past weekend for a four-game series against No. 13 Humboldt State and suffered the second series sweep of the season, dropping down to seventh in California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

    The Tritons fell 4–1, 4–3 in Friday’s doubleheader, then dropped Saturday’s games 3–2, 4–1; their record is now 22–20 overall and 12–16 in conference play. Humboldt State increased its win streak to 17-straight games and remains atop the CCAA.

    The Lumberjacks put the first run on the board in the second inning of Friday’s first game. With two outs and two runners on base, senior first-baseman Alison McKibbon singled down the right side to score redshirt junior third baseman Julie Pena. The Jacks boosted their lead to 4–0 in the third — three consecutive hits loaded the bases up, then junior second-baseman Cyndi Chavez scored off a single by sophomore second-baseman Tiffany Hollingsworth to notch run number two for Humboldt. An error by the Triton third-baseman then allowed Hollingsworth and junior catcher Darian Harris to score two unearned runs, increasing the Tritons’ deficit to four.

    UCSD attempted a comeback in the fourth inning: Sophomore first-baseman Ashley Chestnut and sophomore catcher Emma Schneider drew two consecutive walks, then both runners moved up a bag off a sacrifice bunt by freshman third-baseman Rachel Phillips. Freshman outfielder Kendall Baker then drove freshman second-baseman Kendall Woken, who was pinch running for Chestnut, home for the first and only run of the game. However, the Tritons couldn’t keep the rally going and ultimately fell 4–1 in the series opener.

    Humboldt State struck first again in game two on Friday — a three-run homer over the left-field fence by McKibbon in the second gave the Jacks a sizeable lead early on. Two innings later, Hollingsworth sent a single to left center to score Chavez, notching up the critical insurance run for Humboldt.

    UCSD responded in the fifth inning, scoring two to narrow the deficit. Sophomore utility Bianca Devoto, who was pinch hitting for junior outfielder Taylor Abeyta, singled up the middle to send Phillips and Schneider home. The Tritons attempted to overtake the Jacks in the sixth but fell just short of a comeback. With Woken on second and freshman outfielder Kelsi Maday on third, junior shortstop McKenna Clewett hit a sacrifice bunt to score Woken and close the gap to one run. However, Humboldt’s junior pitcher Katie Obbema shut down the next two batters in the order, then went three-up, three-down in the seventh to secure a 4–3 win for the Jacks.

    “I always say that offense wins games, while defense loses games,” Schneider told the UCSD Guardian. “If you have a strong offense, then getting on the scoreboard should not be an issue. It means nothing without a strong defense, though. You can score as many runs as you want, but they won’t mean much if your defense isn’t strong enough to stop the other team from scoring.”

    The Triton women took the lead first in Saturday’s first game. Abeyta started the big blue off with a big triple to left-center in the third inning. Then, with two outs up on the board, Schneider and Devoto hit back-to-back doubles to score two for UCSD.

    Humboldt countered in the fourth with a one-run homer by Harris, then took the lead from the Tritons in the sixth. With runners in scoring position, UCSD Head Coach Patti Gerckens turned to junior right-handed pitcher Hannah Duarte to relieve junior left-handed pitcher Alexis Edwards. Despite a strong effort from Duarte, Humboldt hit two consecutive singles to break into the lead. Lumberjack sophomore pitcher Madison Williams then closed out the game, giving up one hit in the sixth and pitching a perfect seventh to give Humboldt a 3–2 win.

    Humboldt State earned the series sweep in Saturday’s final game with a decisive 4–1 victory. The Triton defense held strong for five innings — Duarte and the Triton fielders kept the Jacks to one run with two impressive double plays in the field and Duarte giving up just four hits.

    The Lumberjack offense broke through in the sixth with a solo homer by senior first-baseman Hannah Williams and increased their lead to four in the final frame after back-to-back base hits by Pena and junior outfielder Carly Perkins scored two more runners.

    With one last inning to break the shutout, the Triton offense geared up for a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Three consecutive base hits by Chestnut, junior outfielder Kristin George and Baker loaded the bases up; Schneider then popped up a sacrifice fly to score Phillips, who was pinch running for Chestnut. However, the big blue went down at the next at-bat, stranding two runners on base and dropping the series finale.

    “I think we were in it every game,” Gerckens told the UCSD Athletics Department. “Our pitching was fantastic, but [Humboldt] capitalized on every mistake we made, and we just didn’t do that.”

    The Tritons will be on the road in Hayward, California, next weekend against CCAA No. 8 Cal State East Bay, then will return home on April 24 and 25 against Cal State San Bernardino before moving into the CCAA and NCAA tournaments.

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