No. 10 UCSD clinches CCAA title
Tritons sweep Cal State East Bay, win first conference title
HAYWARD, Calif. -- No. 10 UC San Diego clinched its first California Collegiate Athletic Association regular season title in program history with a pair of wins over Cal State East Bay on Friday afternoon at Pioneer Softball Field. The Tritons took down the Pioneers, 12-2 and 2-1, respectively.
Coming into the weekend, UCSD (33-10 overall, 21-8 CCAA) needed to win three of four games in the series to guarantee itself a conference championship. However, second-place Sonoma State (23-13 CCAA, .639) split four games with Cal State Dominguez and Cal State Monterey Bay took a game from third-place Chico State (19-13 CCAA, .593) on the opening day of their respective series. Even if the Tritons were to drop their final two games on Saturday the Tritons' lowest possible win-percentage of .677 would out-do Chico State's maximum win-percentage of .656. SSU's season ended earlier Friday.
UCSD almost had to wait another day before clinching the CCAA title. After stomping CSUEB (23-26, 13-21) 12-2 in the opening game, the Tritons would find themselves trailing by a run heading into the top of the sixth inning of game two. Mya Romero opened the inning with a leadoff double, eventually advancing to third on a passed ball. Caitlin Brown walked, then gave way to a pinch-runner, Emily McQuaid. With the tying run at third base, UCSD forced a second player into scoring position when McQuaid stole second for her 11th theft of the season.
CSUEB pitcher Kelly Lowe struckout the next two batters, Esther Strom and Rhiannon Ousley, and it looked as though the Tritons would squander their opportunity. However, UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens called on freshman Charly Swanberg to pinch-hit for Katrin Gabriel. Swanberg, who hadn't recorded a hit since March 11, laced a single up the middle to score Romero and McQuaid, giving the Tritons their final 2-1 lead, and ultimately, UCSD's first CCAA title.
Camille Gaito (24-2) worked the final 2.1 innings of game two, earning her second win of the day after taking over for starter Jenn Manuel (2-3). She struck out five of the nine batters she faced in the Friday finale. In game one, Gaito worked six innings while giving up two runs on three hits and striking out six.
Four Tritons scored multiple times and six UCSD players had a multiple hits in Friday's opening affair, as UCSD exploded for a season-high 16 hits and matched a season-high with 12 runs.
UCSD got on the board in rather odd fashion in the first, as Kris Lesovsky and Romero were both granted home plate on two of three illegal pitches in the inning by CSUEB starter Talia Ferrari. The Pioneers would regain those two runs in their half of the first on a two-run homerun by Taylor Neumann.
Tied 2-2, three Tritons singled to open the second inning and Sarah Woofter was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Romero followed with a single down the right field line, driving-in Taylor Sepulveda and Lesovsky to make it 4-2. Strom picked up Woofter from third with an RBI single to give the Tritons a three-run lead.
Brown connected with her first career homerun to centerfield to make it 6-2 in the fourth. She is one of three Tritons who have accounted for UCSD's six homeruns this season. Strom and Gabriel added hits in the inning, but Ferrari was able to escape with only the long bomb from Brown in the fourth.
UCSD would wait until its final at-bat to put its mark on game one, as the Tritons combined for six runs on four hits in the seventh. Gabriel and Lyndsay Gaylord scored on a groundball from Nicole Spangler. Woofter followed with a double to drive-in Lesovsky and Sepulveda to make it 10-2. After Strom was hit by a pitch and Brown walked, Ousley drove-in Woofter and Brown with her third single of the game to give the Tritons their final lead, 12-2.
Lesovsky was 2-for-2 with three runs scored in game one. Brown was 2-for-3 and Ousley was 3-for-5 with two RBI. Woofter ended the opening game 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI.