Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Monique Portugal's second home run of the season put the game out of reach for UCSD in its win over Dixie State.
Portugal's Grand Slam Launches Tritons Into NCAA West Super Regional
Release: Sunday 05/06/2012 
SEASIDE, Calif. - Freshman second baseman Monique Portugal pounded a two-out grand slam to cap-off a six-run fourth inning, as the No. 24 UC San Diego softball team trounced Dixie State via run-rule, 10-0, to take the NCAA West Region II title on Sunday afternoon at Otter Sports Complex.

UCSD (39-20), which fell in Friday's opening game of the tournament to DSC (38-13), won consecutive games over Montana State-Billings and Cal State Monterey Bay on Saturday before downing DSC twice on Sunday to capture the West subregional title. The Tritons advance to the West Super Regional for the second-straight season and will travel to face top-seeded Cal State Dominguez Hills in a best-of-three series, May 11 & 12, in Carson, Calif.

The winner of the West Super Regional qualifies for the eight-team NCAA Division II National Championships, May 16-19 in Lousiville, Ky.

"Our goal was to leave here by winning the last game and we did that. In the end, it doesn't really matter how many games you play, it just matters that you come out, play hard and respect the game. Fortunately, the results were positive for us," said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens.

Camille Gaito (27-9) pitched another gem for the Tritons, giving up just six hits while striking out six Red Storm batters. The senior right-hander pitched every inning for the Tritons over their 4-1 weekend, accounting for three shutout victories while surrendering three earned runs.

Kris Lesovsky got the scoring going for the Tritons in the second inning, sending one of her three hits in the game to left field to drive in Maria Sykes. With runners on first and third, UCSD put on the double steal as Lesovsky drew a throw to second base. Emily McQuaid took off from third on the throw across the diamond and slid under the tag back home to make it 2-0.

Charly Swanberg added an RBI infield single to put UCSD up by three.

Sykes drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning and Nicole Spangler followed with an infield single to make it 5-0 with two out. That brought up Portugal, who came into the at-bat 0-for-5 on the day.

"I hadn't had a hit all day, but I knew that I had to relax and it would come," said Portugal. "Coach told me right before my at-bat she wanted me to blow it open."

The first-year Triton obliged, sending Michelle Duncan's third pitch over the left field wall to put UCSD up by nine. The blast marked Portugal's second homer of the season.

Mya Romero added an RBI single in the fifth inning to score Anne Wethe for UCSD's final run.

After taking out the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 7 seeds in the West Region. The Tritons move on to face No. 1-seed CSUDH, which defeated No. 8-seed Grand Canyon on Sunday in the West Region I Final.

The Tritons are 4-1 against the Toros this season. Still, Gerckens expects a battle in Carson.

"It's going to come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes. I don't think they're going to be blowout games, I think they'll be one, two or three-run games. I'm really looking forward to playing them," said Gerckens.

UCSD right fielder Caitlin Brown cracked a solo home run and starter Camille Gaito escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning as the sixth-seeded Tritons topped third-seeded Dixie State, 3-2, to force a deciding game at the NCAA West subregional on Saturday afternoon at Otter Sports Complex.

After Brown homered in the top of the seventh to make it 3-0, the Red Storm tagged Gaito for three singles to load the bases with one out. Marla Reiter took a pitch off her knee to force-in Courtney Sherwin to bring DSC within two.

Gaito forced pinch-hitter Kylee Bufton to pop out to short, but Sheila Gelter reached on an infield single in front of the plate to make it 3-2. DSC coach Randy Simkins brought in another pinch-hitter, Kylie Bartlett, who was 6-for-13 coming into the at-bat.

However, Gaito sat Bartlett down on three pitches, preserving the win and guaranteeing another game to decide the winner of West Region II. Gaito (26-9) struck out five while giving up seven hits on 133 pitches.

UCSD was handed its first runs of the day due to a bit of wayward Red Storm pitching.

DSC starter Mattie Snow (17-5) froze Maria Sykes in the top of the first inning with the bases loaded to get out of the inning, but she found herself in a bit more trouble in the third. Kris Lesovsky and Kirsten Willmon singled throught the left side and Charly Swanberg singled to center to load the bases with one out.

Snow walked Mya Romero to bring in Lesovsky. Lesovsky's run was the 47th score for the senior center fielder this season- a new school record.

Sykes earned the Tritons second run while gaining a bit of redemption from her first at-bat. Down 0-2 in the count, Sykes worked the count to 3-2 before taking an outside pitch for ball-four. Willmon scored to make it 2-0.

Lauren Folta relieved Snow of her duties in the circle and immediately got out of the jam by striking out Nicole Spanler and getting Monique Portugal to ground out to short.

Brown's home run was her third at the tournament and eighth this season.

Softball Seating Campaign (landscape)