UCSD hits the road for the first time in 2014 to continue California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play this week against Sonoma State. Last week’s four-game set with Cal State Monterey Bay was cancelled due to inclement weather in the La Jolla area. The last time the Tritons were on the field, they earned a 4-0 series win over Cal State East Bay at Triton Softball Field. The four-game set with SSU will consist of two doubleheaders, the first on Friday, Mar. 7, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. The set will conclude with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. the following day on Saturday, Mar. 8. There will be an approximate 30-minute break in between games.
Live stats will be available for the four-game series with Sonoma State by clicking here. A live video stream with play-by-play will also be available for both doubleheaders by clicking here.
HOME SWEET HOME – SCHEDULE OUTLOOK
The Tritons opened the 2014 campaign with 14-straight games at Triton Softball Field. Overall, UCSD has 24 games scheduled in La Jolla with the last series listed on Apr. 25-26 against Cal State Dominguez Hills. The Tritons will face Sonoma State, Cal State San Bernardino, San Francisco State and Humboldt State on the road in conference play. UCSD will also travel to Turlock for the Tournament of Champions on Apr. 4-6. 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 May 2-4 at Arnaiz Stadium. Check out the full schedule by clicking here.
UCSD is currently ranked No. 11 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II poll, released on Mar. 5. The Tritons started the year ranked No. 21 in the NFCA preseason poll. Humboldt State, a member of the CCAA, is currently ranked No. 7. Other conference members mentioned in the poll are Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal State Dominguez Hills, who are currently receiving votes. The entire poll can be found by clicking here.
2014 CCAA STANDINGS
1. UC San Diego: 7-1, 12-2
2. Cal State Dominguez Hills: 7-3, 13-7
3. Humboldt State: 8-4, 18-5
4. Cal State Monterey Bay: 5-3, 9-4
5. Cal State San Bernardino: 5-5, 11-8
T-6. Chico State: 5-7, 7-10
T-6. Cal State East Bay: 5-7, 6-10
8. Cal State Stanislaus: 4-6, 8-11
9. Sonoma State: 4-8, 8-6
10. San Francisco State: 2-8, 6-11
Among all CCAA teams, UCSD ranks:
1. AVG (.369)
1. Fewest Strikeouts (21)
1. OBP (.423)
2. Stolen Bases (33)
2. Triples (7)
4. SLG (.504)
4. Runs (94)
5. RBI (79)
6. Hits (137)
T-7. Home Runs (5)
9. Walks (30)
10. Doubles (21)
1. ERA (2.28)
1. Walks (30)
1. Earned Runs (31)
2. Hits (89)
9. Strikeouts (43)
Tritons ranked among the top 10 players in the CCAA include:
• McKenna Clewett
5. AVG (.439)
7. OBP (.511)
• Caitlin Brown
T-8. Stolen Bases (6)
T-8. Runs (14)
• Callie Grant
T-8. Runs (14)
• Alayna Brenman
7. ERA (2.76)
9. Strikeouts per game (4.42)
• Alexis Edwards
1. ERA (0.80)
5. Wins (6)
• Jennifer Manuel
4. ERA (2.41)
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
The Tritons were rained out last weekend at home against Cal State Monterey Bay in La Jolla. The last time UCSD was on the field, the Tritons improved to 12-2 overall and 7-1 in the CCAA following a four-game sweep of Cal State East Bay. UCSD received a complete-game shutout from Alexis Edwards in game one and erupted for 12 runs in the nightcap as the Tritons swept Cal State East Bay in a doubleheader on day one of action. Scores were 4-0 and 12-9, both of the seven inning variety. McKenna Clewett led the Tritons offensively in the pair of victories and totaled four hits, three RBI and two runs. Edwards powered the pitching staff by picking up her second complete game of the year and fifth win in the opener. The Tritons completed the series win over CSUEB behind an offensive outburst of 29 hits and 25 runs the following day at Triton Softball Field. Scores were 17-1 and 8-3, with the first concluding after the fifth inning. The offense was fueled up and down the lineup, highlighted by Clewett’s four hits, six RBI and six runs. The pitching staff, led by Edwards and Alayna Brenman, kept the Pioneer offense at bay on the afternoon to earn the pair of victories.
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. The Oxnard native is currently 4-0 on the year with a 0.88 ERA in 24 innings pitched.
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.
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 opened the season 4-0 with the sweep of Western Oregon, which marks the first time the Tritons have started the year 4-0 since 2012 … The Tritons have recorded two four-game sweeps (WOU, CSUEB) … UCSD currently is 12-2 at home in 2014 … UCSD scored 17 runs against Cal State East Bay on Feb. 22, the most runs in a game during the Division II era … UCSD is outscoring its opponents 25-3 in the third inning and 21-4 in the sixth inning … The Tritons have recorded two walk-off wins this season (2/1, 2/1) … UCSD is 33-37 in stolen base attempts … McKenna Clewett leads the Tritons with six multiple hit games … Emma Schneider leads UCSD with five multiple RBI games. She also blasted her first career home run against Western Oregon (2/1) … Callie Grant’s 11 game hit streak was halted in the finale against CSUEB … Katie Saunders currently holds a six game hitting streak … Caitlin Brown currently sits in third on the UCSD career home runs list with 20. The senior also ranks tied for third on the career walks list (75) … Mya Romero is currently UCSD’s all-time career leader in assists … Emily McQuaid currently sits in third on the UCSD all-time career steals list with 55 … 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 561-481 (.538) 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 SEAWOLVES
Sonoma State enters with a 10-8 overall record and a 4-8 mark in CCAA play. The Seawolves are coming off conference split with Cal State East Bay last weekend. SSU took games one (3-0) and three (4-3) and fell in games two (10-8) and four (4-3). The Seawolves rank sixth in the CCAA with a .310 team batting average, including a league high 33 stolen bases. SSU also ranks third in the conference in team ERA at 2.86 and also sports a conference high 90 strikeouts recorded. The offense is led by outfielder Megan Konieczka, who ranks second in the conference with a .473 batting average. She also ranks second in the conference in stolen bases (9) and slugging percentage (.945), third in RBI (21), fourth in home runs (5) and sixth in on-base percentage (.516). Konieczka also currently holds a 14 game hitting streak. The pitching staff is led by Amanda Llerena’s 1.98 ERA and seven wins. She has thrown 70.2 innings with 60 strikeouts in 11 starts inside the circle. Jennifer Bridges is currently in her fifth year as head coach of the Seawolves.
UCSD holds a 30-27 all-time series record against SSU. The Tritons and the Seawolves split the season series a year ago, 4-4. The four-game regular season series was split 2-2 in La Jolla at Triton Softball Field before the two squads met two more times in the CCAA Tournament. Sonoma State won the opening game in the postseason, 5-2, before UCSD responded with an 8-6 win to knock the Seawolves out of the conference tournament.
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THE BIG PICTURE
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UCSD stays on the road next week to face Cal State San Bernardino in a four-game CCAA series. The first doubleheader is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 14 at 1 p.m. in San Bernardino. The set will conclude on Saturday, Mar. 15, with a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m.