STOCKTON, Calif. - The UC San Diego softball team fell short in defending its California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament title, dropping a 6-2 decision against No. 5 Humboldt State in the championship round Sunday at Arnaiz Stadium.
Second-seeded UCSD (33-23) owned a 2-0 lead after four innings of play, but HSU (47-12), the tourney's top seed, plated five runs in the sixth to secure the title and ice the team's 11th consecutive victory.
“Overall, we played a good game today against a very good team," said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. "Our defense was solid and made some big plays. There were a few plays we could have made in the field that we didn’t and we definitely missed some opportunities to score runs. But, in general, we were a much different team than the one that lost four in a row to Humboldt State two weeks ago."
UCSD now hopes to land an at-large spot in the eight-team NCAA West Regional. The qualifying squads and match-ups, as well as host sites, will be announced by the NCAA on Monday, May 6 at 7:30 a.m. (PT). The selection show can be followed live at NCAA.com.
With one out in the fourth, Caitlin Brown walked and Mya Romero singled. A sac bunt by Emily McQuaid moved the runners up and an intentional walk to Nicole Spangler loaded the bases. Amani Proctor delivered with a two-run single back up the middle, giving the Tritons a 2-0 lead.
HSU answered with a single run in the fifth. With two outs, the Jacks loaded the bases with two walks and a double to left-center by Courtney Hiatt. Another walk forced in the run, getting Humboldt back within one at 2-1.
With one out, HSU loaded the bases again in the sixth. A Hiatt single plated two runs and a double by Pena, also with the bases juiced, scored another three, giving the Jacks a 6-2 advantage that they held on to.
The Tritons had two runners on with no outs in the seventh, but could not push any more runs across.
Proctor finished 3-for-3 at the plate, while Romero was 2-for-3. Brown walked twice in the game.
Michelle Escamilla tossed the opening five frames for UCSD, giving up just one run on three hits and eight walks. Alexis Edwards (5-3) took the loss in relief, surrendering five runs on two hits with three walks.
"Michelle (Escamilla) did a great job of going at batters when we wanted her to and gave up only three hits in five innings against an excellent offensive lineup," said Gerckens.
For the Lumberjacks, Katie Obemma threw a complete game. She scattered seven hits while striking out three and walking four.
After losing its opening game of the tournament to Sonoma State Friday, UC San Diego staved off elimination twice with wins over Cal State Dominguez Hills and SSU on Saturday. With the tourney's double elimination format, the Tritons would have had to defeat the Lumberjacks twice Sunday to successfully defend their title.
“Looking back at the entire weekend, we really competed like a postseason team," said Gerckens. "People up and down the lineup came through for us at different times. I saw a different team than I’d seen in a while and it was encouraging. If we get an NCAA bid, I’ll be very excited. I think we’re in a good place.”
Brown, McQuaid, Romero and Taylor Sepulveda were all named to the all-tournament team.
All-CCAA Tournament Team: Danielle D'Eccliss (Sonoma State); Ali Palermo (Sonoma State); Adriana Sanchez (Cal State Dominguez Hills); Emily McQuaid; Taylor Sepulveda; Caitlin Brown; Mya Romero; Julie Pena (HSU); Chrissy Stalf (HSU); Hannah Williams (HSU); Katie Obbema (HSU).
Most Outstanding Player: Courtney Hiatt (HSU).
-- UCSDtritons.com --