LA JOLLA, Calif. - The Tritons begin their national title defense this weekend in the NCAA Division II West Regional, hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay.
NCAA Division II West Region 2 - First Round
No. 24 UC San Diego (35-19) vs. Dixie State (34-11)
Friday, May 4 - 12:00 p.m.
Otter Sports Complex - Seaside, Calif.
UCSD moved up one spot in the NCAA West Region rankings on Monday morning to take the sixth-seed for the NCAA West Region 2 Tournament this weekend. UCSD will face No. 3-seed Dixie State of Utah in the opening round. No. 2-seed Cal State Monterey Bay (42-10), the sub-regional's highest seed and host, will face-off with No. 7-seed Montana State-Billings (32-16). The West Region's top-seed, Cal State Dominguez Hills (41-13), is hosting No. 4 Chico State (34-14), No. 5 Sonoma State (34-14) and No. 8 Grand Canyon (34-19) in Carson this weekend. The winners of each sub-regional will meet May 11-12 in the West Super Regional to determine who moves on to May 16-19's NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky.
UCSD won its first-ever California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship last weekend in Stockton after going 3-1 overall and downing CSUMB, 4-1, in the winner-take-all game on Sunday afternoon. The Tritons, making their third appearance in the conference tournament championship game, fell in the opening game of the day to the Otters, but rallied for four runs in their final two at-bats of game two to overtake CSUMB. UCSD beat top-seeded Cal State Dominguez Hills 1-0 on Friday afternoon to get to the semifinals via a three-hit shutout by Camille Gaito and a squeeze bunt from Caitlin Brown to score Kris Lesovsky in the sixth inning. Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning in the semifinals against Chico State, Brown once again was the hero, driving a two-out single up the middle to score Monique Portugal and send UCSD to the championship. UCSD sits at 7-5 all-time in four CCAA Tournament appearances.
Five Tritons - Camille Gaito, Caitlin Brown, Emily McQuaid, Charly Swanberg and Nicole Spangler - were named to the CCAA All-Tournament Team and Gaito was deemed the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. In four appearances over 22.2 innings, Gaito (23-8) went 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA, striking out 12 and walking four while limiting opponents to just 19 hits, three earned runs and a .232 average. Brown led the Tritons with a .333 average and accounted for the game-winning RBIs in the opening two games of the competition. McQuaid scored twice at the tournament and led all Tritons with 10 assists at third base. Spangler logged a two-run double in the opening game against CSUMB while Swanberg's two-run single in the sixth against CSUC helped the Tritons tie the game and eventually overtake the Wildcats.
Dixie State College, located in St. George, Utah, finished second in the PacWest Conference and earned the PWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament because first-place Cal Baptist is not eligible for postseason play due to the transition period between NAIA and NCAA DII. The Red Storm won 15 of their last 16 games of the season, including four-game sweeps of Notre Dame de Namur and Dominican University. DSC took three of four games at Grand Canyon in the last series of the season, April 27-28. UCSD is 5-3 all-time against the Red Storm and has won the last three contests between the teams. UCSD downed DSC 2-1 at last year's Tournament of Champions in Turlock behind a pair of RBI singles by Jennifer Manuel.
Cal State Monterey Bay has been popping off at the plate in 2012. The second-seeded Otters led the CCAA in team average (.328), slugging (.501), OBP (.410), runs (361), hits (492) and RBIs (332) on their way to earning a co-regular season conference championship. UCSD is 1-5 against CSUMB this season, with its only win coming in last Sunday's CCAA Tournament. The Otters are led by CCAA Freshman of the Year Cori Reinhardt, who is 23-3 as a pitcher and is batting .467 with 13 home runs. Jackie Serna led the conference with a .428 average (Reinhardt does not have the required amount of at-bats to qualify) and Nina Villanueva was tops in slugging percentage (.784) and RBIs (68). CSUMB has won 22 of its last 26 games dating back to March 30.
Montana State-Billings, the seventh-seed, finished in first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to earn the GNAC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. MSUB is making its third appearance in the postseason tournament. The Tritons are 2-1 all-time against the Yellowjackets, beating them in the Silver Bracket Championship game last season at the Tournament of Champions.
With a hit in the CCAA championship game, Kris Lesovsky moved into a tie with Amy Mettee (2001-03) for the school's all-time record with 256. Lesovsky, who is tops on UCSD's list in doubles, walks, runs and average (as of May 1), needs three RBIs to pass Jenny Maze (123, 2005-08) for the school record, as well. Also at the CCAA Tournament, Camille Gaito became UCSD's all-time leader in complete games with 87 to her credit. Assuming she works more than 1.2 innings at the NCAA Regional, Gaito will become the school's career leader for appearances and innings pitched, as well.
The last team to repeat as NCAA DII national champions was California (Pa.) in 1997-98 ... Three out of the last four national champions have came out of the West Region, two from the CCAA - UCSD and Humboldt State ... Nicole Spangler has the seventh-most putouts in a single season in program history with 301 ... Mya Romero's 37 RBIs and 134 assists are fifth-most and sixth-most in UCSD single season history, respectively ... Four players on this year's team rank in the single-season top 10 for walks - Brown, Maria Sykes, Lesovsky and Romero ... CSUMB accounted for the most amount of hits (12), runs (9) and walks (7) in a single game against the Tritons during Sunday's game one ... UCSD is 7-9 against top 25 teams this season and 5-6 against top 10 teams.
There are now more ways than ever to follow the Tritons. Of course, you've always got ucsdtritons.com at your fingertips, but our social media scene is growing by the hour. Get instant updates on Twitter and like us on Facebook. For a more visual approach, watch us on YouTube. UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens is now also on Twitter. Follow the 2011 NFCA Coach of the Year all season long for an in-depth look at her perspective on the team. Just click @PGerckensUCSDsb.