LA JOLLA, Calif. – The 21st-ranked UC San Diego softball team opened 2014 with two walk-off wins Saturday at Triton Softball Field against Western Oregon. In game one, Kirsten Willmon tripled into the right-center gap to propel UCSD to a 4-3 comeback win before Emma Schneider blasted a two-run homerun, the first of her collegiate career, to end the second game after six innings, 11-3.
The Tritons open the year 2-0 overall following the doubleheader sweep, while the Wolves drop to 0-2 overall.
Willmon did it all on the afternoon, finishing with five hits in seven at-bats, seven total bases, two runs, a pair of RBI and one stolen base in the two games combined. Schneider was nearly as impressive after concluding the day with four hits in seven at-bats, three RBI and the homer. The pitching staff, spearheaded by Alayna Brenman and Jennifer Manuel, finished the day with nine strikeouts to a pair of walks and only allowed two earned runs in the pair of wins.
The first four innings of the opening game proved to be a pitchers dual, as Brenman came out strong in her collegiate debut. The freshman escaped jams in the first and the fourth innings and stranded three runners in the process. Western Oregon’s Eryka Brill was just as sharp through four frames, and only allowed three hits.
WOU was the first to jump on the scoreboard in the fifth inning after a bunt single scored Amanda Evola, who had singled and stole second. The Wolves tacked on two the next inning after a pair of Triton errors to put the score at 3-0 with two innings to play.
UCSD’s offense finally came alive in the bottom half of the sixth to knot the game up at three. Willmon started the rally with a single and was followed by a walk from Caitlin Brown. Schneider continued the streak with a shot up the middle to score Willmon. McKenna Clewett knocked in the final two runs of the inning with a single up the middle as the game headed into the final frame all knotted up.
After recording a shutout inning from Alexis Edwards on the mound, the Tritons came out in the bottom half to earn the walk-off win, 4-3, with the heroics from Willmon to score Mya Romero from first base.
Edwards was credited with the win (1-0) after throwing 1.1 scoreless frames, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout. Brenman finished with a line of 5.2 innings with eight hits allowed, one earned run and four strikeouts.
Willmon tallied three hits, one run and an RBI to power the Triton offense, while Clewett was credited with two RBI and one hit in three plate appearances.
WOU was led by three hits from Melanie Pfeiffer and two RBI from Lexi Jennings in the loss.
The second game of the doubleheader had a similar feel through the first two frames before UCSD exploded on offense in the third inning. Romero started things off with a single and was followed by a fielder’s choice from Callie Grant that allowed both runners to reach base. Willmon sacrificed the runners over with a bunt to set-up a Brown RBI. After a throwing error by the Wolves scored Grant, Clewett singled home Brown and Alissa Gutierrez singled home Clewett to put the Tritons ahead 4-0.
The Wolves responded with a three-spot of their own the next half inning, highlighted by a Jourdan Williams homerun to left-center to pull within one, 4-3, after four-and-a-half-frames.
UCSD tacked on two more runs in the bottom half, and another pair in the fifth to extend the lead to 8-3 as the sixth approached. Hannah Duarte, who had come on for Manuel the inning before, put the Wolves down in the sixth with a scoreless frame with the Tritons coming to bat.
UCSD closed out the win on the mercy rule by scoring three runs in the bottom half. Willmon singled, stole second and was brought home on a Brown RBI standup triple down the right-field line. Schneider followed with the walk-off two-run bomb to left to win 11-3.
Manuel (1-0) was credited with the win after throwing four innings, only allowing one earned run on five hits and striking out three. Duarte threw two scoreless frames with one strikeout.
Schneider finished the game with three hits and two RBI, while Willmon, Clewett and Brown all finished with two hits apiece in the win. Brown added two RBI to her line, while Romero scored two runs for UCSD.
The Wolves were led by two hits and one RBI from Evola. Sammie Caldwallader was drilled with the loss after allowing seven runs, four earned, in four innings.
UCSD and Western Oregon wrap up the four-game series tomorrow at Triton Softball Field with a doubleheader starting at 10:00 a.m.