UC San Diego returns to the postseason for the fourth straight season with a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament. The Tritons finished the regular season 33-14 overall and third in league play with a 22-10 mark. UCSD received the No. 3 seed in the championship and will face No. 2 Humboldt State Friday at 7 p.m. The CCAA has partnered with the Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau to host the 2014 conference softball championships in the city of Stockton. The 2014 CCAA softball championship will be held at Arnaiz Stadium. Top seed Cal State Monterey Bay will take on No. 4 seed Sonoma State in the opener with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch.
CCAA POSTSEASON HISTORY
The fourth-straight appearance at the conference tournament marks the sixth total visit for the Tritons since the inception in 2007. UCSD captured the crown in 2012 with a defeat over Cal State Monterey Bay and will attempt to be the third program with two tournament championships in 2014. The Tritons have played in each of the last three CCAA Championship games and four total. UCSD finished as the regular season champ in 2011, but fell to Sonoma State in the title game. SSU and Humboldt State lead the league with two CCAA plaques apiece. The Tritons hold a 9-7 all-time record at the league tournament.
UCSD is currently receiving votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II poll, released on Apr. 30. The Tritons started the year ranked No. 21 in the NFCA preseason poll. CCAA members Cal State Monterey Bay (No. 3) and Humboldt State (No. 6) are also found in the rankings. The entire poll can be found by clicking here.
WEST REGION RANKINGS
Rank: Overall, In-Region Records
1. Cal State Monterey Bay: 44-6, 42-6
2. Dixie State: 43-8, 43-8
3. California Baptist: 39-11, 39-11
4. Humboldt State: 42-13, 42-13
5. UC San Diego: 33-14, 33-14
6. Sonoma State: 35-19, 33-19
7. Central Washington: 25-14, 25-14
8. Western Washington: 28-12, 28-12
9. Cal State San Bernardino: 29-24, 29-24
10. Hawaii-Hilo: 22-20, 22-20
The top eight teams in the May 5 announcement will comprise the NCAA West Regional.
2014 FINAL CCAA STANDINGS
1. Cal State Monterey Bay: 25-6, 44-7
2. Humboldt State: 27-9, 43-13
3. UC San Diego: 22-10, 33-14
4. Sonoma State: 19-17, 35-19
5. Cal State East Bay: 18-18, 27-26
6. Chico State: 17-19, 24-26
7. Cal State San Bernardino: 16-19, 29-24
8. Cal State Dominguez Hills: 11-25, 17-35
T-9. San Francisco State: 10-26, 19-36
T-9 Cal State Stanislaus: 10-26, 17-38
Among all CCAA teams, UCSD ranks:
1. Fewest Strikeouts (89)
2. Stolen Bases (86)
2. Triples (15)
2. AVG (.330)
4. Hits (437)
5. SLG (.436)
5. Runs (248)
5. OBP (.380)
5. Doubles (74)
6. RBI (211)
9. Home Runs (12)
10. Walks (88)
2. Earned Runs (120)
2. Hits (292)
3. ERA (2.57)
9. Walks (167)
7. Strikeouts (146)
Tritons ranked among the top 10 players in the CCAA include:
• Callie Grant
3. AVG (.432)
4. Runs (43)
6. OBP (.468)
T-7. Hits (63)
T-9. Triples (2)
• Caitlin Brown
T-9. Triples (2)
• Amani Proctor
T-5. Triples (3)
T-7. Stolen Bases (16)
• Kirsten Willmon
T-1. Triples (5)
• Alexis Edwards
3. ERA (1.74)
5. Wins (18)
9. Innings Pitched (149.0)
T-10. Complete Games (12)
• Jennifer Manuel
8. ERA (2.65)
• Alayna Brenman
8. Strikeouts Per Game (4.42)
• Emily McQuaid
2. Assists (133)
• Mya Romero
3. Assists (127)
• McKenna Clewett
7. Assists (102)
The Tritons rank sixth nationally in fielding percentage (.975), 11th in double plays per game (0.49) and 31st in batting average (.330). Individually, Callie Grant ranks 44th nationally in batting average (.432) and Alexis Edwards is 50th in ERA (1.74) and 38th in victories (18).
UCSD finished the regular season with a 3-1 CCAA series win over Cal State Dominguez Hills last weekend at Tritons Softball Field. The Tritons snapped its five-game losing streak in the opener behind a complete-game win from Alexis Edwards. The offense backed the quality start with three runs on seven hits, led by two from Caitlin Brown. The senior also finished an RBI, bringing her eight short of the UCSD all-time career record. Similar to game one, the nightcap was highlighted by the Triton starting pitcher. Manuel proved up to the task by delivering her seventh career complete-game shutout. The Tritons led from start-to-finish after opening the game with a run in the first, and tallied a single run in the second, fifth and sixth frames, respectively, to win 4-0. On day two, Callie Grant made a game-saving diving catch with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and scored a run offensively to power UCSD over CSUDH, 2-0, in the nightcap to seal the series win, 3-1. The Toros took game one, 3-2, in a rain-delayed affair.
UCSD seniors Emily McQuaid, Caitlin Brown, Jennifer Manuel, Mya Romero and Kirsten Willmon were honored Saturday, April. 26 as they played their final home games at Triton Softball Field. The five seniors helped bring in the program’s first National Championship, a National Runner-Up finish and an NCAA Regional appearance the past three seasons. The senior class currently holds a .674 winning percentage, the highest in the Division II era.
Head coach Patti Gerckens faced her former player Kim Aggabao, the head coach at CSUDH, on April 25-26. It was the first ever meeting between the two as head coaches. In four years with the Tritons, Aggabao compiled a .312 batting average, including a .335 average over her final three years, and ranks among the all-time career leaders in several different categories, including hits, RBI, doubles, runs scored, putouts and assists.
Callie Grant named the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s (CCAA) Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 31-Apr. 6. Grant was named the Tournament of Champions Batting Champion after leading the Tritons in batting average (.542), on base percentage (.577), runs (7) and hits (13) this weekend. Grant was also named to the All-Tournament Team after helping UCSD finish 6-1 at the TOC and win the Platinum Bracket. Grant posted an impressive line in seven total games: .542, 13-for-24, 7 Runs, 2 RBI, 14 TB, .583 Slug %, 2 BB, .577 OB%, 2 SB. The sophomore helped UCSD finish the tournament with a .342 team batting average to finish only behind Sonoma State’s .372. It marked the first such honor for Grant.
Katie Saunders was named the CCAA Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 10 after leading UCSD to a four-game sweep of Cal State San Bernardino on the road. She led the Tritons in slugging percentage (.722), hits (8), RBI (9), doubles (2), home runs (1) and total bases (13) in the CCAA set. In the opener, Saunders finished with two RBI, a pair of runs and two hits. She followed with a two-run home run to open the second game and finished with three hits and four RBI. On Saturday, Saunders totaled three RBI to help the Tritons finish off the four-game sweep of Cal State San Bernardino. Overall on the weekend, the Manhattan Beach native finished eight-for-18. It marked the first such career honor for Saunders.
Alexis Edwards was named the CCAA Pitcher of the Week for the week of Feb. 15. Edwards helped the Tritons to a 3-1 series win over Chico State by picking up a pair of victories inside the circle on Feb. 14-15. In game one of the series, Edwards finished with a complete-game win after throwing seven innings of shutout ball to power UCSD to a 2-0 victory. It was her first complete game of the year. She allowed four hits, two walks and struck out one for her third win of the year. The following day, the sophomore lefty took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before finishing with 6.1 innings pitched in the 4-0 win. She allowed four hits, two walks and recorded a strikeout for her team-leading fourth win of the season. For the weekend, Edwards led the Tritons in ERA (0.00), innings pitched (13.1), wins (2) and batting average against (.178) in the pair of starts.
WILLMON EARNS WEEKLY HONOR
Kirsten Willmon was named the CCAA Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 2. Willmon helped lead UCSD to a four-game sweep of Western Oregon at home on Feb. 1-2. She led the Tritons in hits (9), doubles (1), total bases (12), triples (1) and runs scored (5) in the four wins. The two-hole sparkplug finished the weekend with a .646 batting average, .857 slugging percentage, .646 on-base percentage, two RBI and one stolen base in 14 at-bats. Her weekend was highlighted by a three-hit performance in the opener. The senior started the sixth inning with a single and scored a few batters later to get the Tritons on the scoreboard. She capped off the game with an RBI walk-off triple to the right-center gap to give UCSD the 4-3 comeback win.
2014 CCAA PRESEASON POLL
1. Humboldt State (8) 80
2. UC San Diego 68
3. Sonoma State 60
4. Cal State Monterey Bay (2) 59
5. Chico State 56
6. Cal State Dominguez Hills 35
7. Cal State San Bernardino 28
8. San Francisco State 27
9. Cal State East Bay 21
10. Cal State Stanislaus 16
WHO’S BACK, WHO’S NOT SNAPSHOT
UCSD returns all but three players from a 2013 squad that went 33-25 overall and placed second in the CCAA with a 24-12 mark. The Tritons qualified for their seventh trip to the NCAA postseason, where they were defeated by host Humboldt State (7-1) and Grand Canyon (8-3) in the first round of the West Regional. Head coach Patti Gerckens, going into her 22nd season leading the Tritons, welcomes back the bulk of last year's starting lineup, including Daktronics All-West Region Second Team selection Caitlin Brown. The senior catcher/first basemen was an All-CCAA First Team member after hitting .327 with nine home runs, 42 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 2013. The Tritons also return All-CCAA selections Kirsten Willmon (First Team), Emily McQuaid (Second Team), Callie Grant (Second Team), Taylor Sepulveda (Second Team) and Mya Romero (Second Team) in 2014. The Tritons only lose one impact player in Nicole Spangler (.347 avg.) to graduation.
UCSD is currently 6-1 on a neutral site … The Tritons are outscoring its opponents 36-19 in the first inning and 46-19 in the fourth inning … When scoring in the first inning, UCSD is 16-3. The Tritons are also 24-2 when leading after the fourth inning … UCSD scored 17 runs against Cal State East Bay on Feb. 22, the most runs in a game during the Division II era … The Tritons have recorded four walk-off wins this season (2/1, 2/1, 3/28, 3/29) … UCSD has recorded four, four-game sweeps (WOU, CSUEB, CSUSB, CSUS) … The Tritons held a seven-game winning streak before losing to Sonoma State on Mar. 7 … UCSD is 86-109 in stolen base attempts … Callie Grant leads the team with 21 multiple-hit games. Grant had an 11-game hit streak halted in the finale against CSUEB. In her last 19 games, she’s batting .522 (35-for-67) with 13 multi-hit games and has scored 20 runs … Caitlin Brown has started all 47 games and leads UCSD with nine multiple-RBI games. Brown had a 16-game reached base streak end against HPU (4/5). She currently sits in third on the UCSD career home runs list with 23 and second on the career RBI list with 124. The senior also ranks second on the career walks list (84) … Emma Schneider blasted her first career home run against Western Oregon (2/1) … Mya Romero is currently UCSD’s all-time career leader in assists with 566. She has started all but three games in her four-year career at UCSD … Emily McQuaid has started all 47 games and currently sits in third on the UCSD all-time career steals list with 65, third on the all-time assists list with 437 and ninth in all-time runs scored list with 94 … Alexis Edwards is currently having a career year, setting career high’s in innings pitched (149.0), wins (18), complete games (12), shutouts (4) and strikeouts (69) … Chandler Geary recorded her first collegiate hit, a double against Chico State (2/15) … Alexiss Rivas recorded her first collegiate hit (2/1) in 2014, while Ashley Chestnut also has her first collegiate hit (2/1) … The Tritons have three local players on the roster: Alayna Brenman (Escondido/Poway HS), McKenna Clewett (Escondido/Orange Glen HS) and Schneider (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) … UCSD has five seniors and five freshmen on the roster.
HEAD COACH PATTI GERCKENS
Patti Gerckens is currently in her 22nd season in charge of the UC San Diego softball program in 2014. The winningest head coach in program history, Gerckens has led the Tritons to three straight NCAA postseason berths, beginning with back-to-back school-record 45-win seasons and appearances in the Division II championship game, the first of which brought UCSD its first softball title in 2011. The Tritons finished as national runners-up in her milestone 20th campaign in 2012. Gerckens has amassed an overall record of 594-495 (.545) over her 21-year career, with seven straight 30-win seasons among nine total and 14 above-.500 outputs in all. Gerckens has led UCSD softball to nine NCAA postseason appearances, with seven at the Division II level. UCSD is 21-14 (.600) in the NCAA Division II Championship. Since taking over the team in 1993, 25 of Gerckens’ players have combined for 48 All-West Region selections. Twenty-seven of her players have earned All-CCAA honors since 2001. She has also coached four All-Americans. Two of her players have earned CCAA Freshman of the Year honors and two Tritons have won CCAA Player or Pitcher of the Year during her tenure. A native of Old Tappan, N.J., Gerckens graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. She was a four-year starter at second base for the Tar Heels and also played for the New Jersey Blue Jays of the Amateur Softball Association for nine years, winning a championship in 1992.
ABOUT THE 'JACKS
Humboldt State, ranked No. 6 nationally, enters with a 43-13 overall record and finished a mark of 27-9 in CCAA play. HSU ranks fifth in team batting average (.318) but is atop the conference in home runs (65) and RBI (287). Tiffany Hollingsworth in the team leader in average at .400 and RBI with 47, which complements her nine home runs. Dani Randall and Julie Pena are offensive threats with 14 home runs and 11 home runs, respectively. Randall has driven in 43 runs, while Pena has plated 48 runners on the season as well. The pitching staff holds a 2.50 team ERA, good for second in the CCAA. Katie Obbema has started a team-high 26 games and holds a 21-7 record with a 2.29 ERA, while Liz Perez has started 20 games and sports a 14-4 record with a 1.99 ERA. The head coach of the ‘Jacks, in her first year, is Shelli Sarchett.
Humboldt State holds a 32-15 all-time series record against UC San Diego. The ‘Jacks swept the Tritons in the regular season CCAA set in Arcata, 4-0, this season. HSU grabbed two postseason wins against UCSD in 2013, the first in the CCAA Championship game and the second in the West Regional opening game. HSU holds a 10-game winning streak over the Tritons.
ABOUT THE SEAWOLVES
Sonoma State enters with a 35-19 overall record and finished with a 19-17 mark in CCAA play. The Seawolves rank fourth in the CCAA with a .320 team batting average, including a league-high 125 stolen bases. SSU also ranks fourth in the conference in team ERA at 2.57 and has recorded a conference-high 262 strikeouts. The offense is led by outfielder Megan Konieczka, who sports a .422 batting average. She also has totaled 15 home runs, 50 RBI and 22 stolen bases. The pitching staff is led by Amanda Llerena’s 2.23 ERA and 22 wins. She has thrown 214.1 innings with 190 strikeouts in 33 starts inside the circle. Jennifer Bridges is currently in her fifth year as head coach of the Seawolves.
UCSD holds a 32-29 all-time series record against SSU. The Tritons and the Seawolves split the season series in 2014, 2-2, in Rohnert Park. Sonoma State won the opening game in the postseason in 2013, 5-2, before UCSD responded with an 8-6 win to knock the Seawolves out of the conference tournament.
ABOUT THE OTTERS
Cal State Monterey Bay, currently ranked No. 3 nationally, enters with a 44-7 overall record and finished with a 25-6 mark in CCAA play. The Otters rank first in the CCAA with a .333 batting average and first in the conference in team ERA at 1.75. Bianca Noriega and Cori Reinhardt lead the Otter offense with .444 and .318 batting averages, respectively. Noriega has totaled four home runs and 42 RBI, while Reinhardt has knocked four bombs out of the park and brought in 31 runs. The pitching staff is headed by Reinhardt (170.2 IP, 111 SO) and Lindsey Clarkson (151.0 IP, 127 SO). Reinhardt stands at 19-5 with a 1.85 ERA, while Clarkson sports a 23-2 record with a 1.58 ERA. Andrea Kenney is currently in her ninth year as head coach of the Otters.
UCSD holds a 22-17 all-time series record against CSUMB. The regular season CCAA set was rained out in La Jolla this season. The Tritons won the season set against the Otters last season, 3-1, in Seaside at Otter Sports Complex. After falling in game one (2-1), UCSD responded with three straight wins to earn the series win. Scores were 3-1, 2-1 and 5-3, with the finale going nine innings.
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The Tournament champion will be the CCAA’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II softball championship. The rest of the field will be determined on May 5, when the top eight teams are released in the final NCAA West Regional rankings. The selection show can be watched live by clicking here.