LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego softball team split a league doubleheader against No. 19 Sonoma State Friday at Triton Softball Field, dropping the series opener, 4-0, before coming back to earn a 3-2 walk-off victory in game two.
Following the first two contests of a four-game series, UCSD is 8-8 overall and 4-2 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Sonoma State moved to 9-4 on the season and is also 4-2 in league play.
Sonoma State used the long ball and a complete game, one-hit gem by hurler Samantha Lipperd to secure the series-opening win.
Following a scoreless first inning and two foul outs to start the second frame, catcher Keisi Chinen got the Seawolves on the board with a first pitch blast that cleared the left field fence and then some. The solo shot was the third of the season for the sophomore.
Sonoma tacked on another two runs in the top of the fourth. Third baseman Hayley Condon drew a two-out walk, bringing first baseman Ali Palermo to the plate. Palermo homered to straight away center, putting the Seawolves up 3-0 with her team-leading fifth round-tripper.
UCSD threatened in its half of the fourth. Designated player Nicole Spangler walked to lead off and was replaced by pinch runner Amani Proctor. Catcher Caitlin Brown then reached on a fielder's choice when she sent a ground ball to third and the speedy Proctor beat the throw to second base. Following a strike out, left fielder Kirsten Willmon was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, the Tritons would leave everyone stranded as Lipperd struck out the next batter looking and got out of the jam by inducing a foul ball out to third.
The Tritons went down in order in the fifth and sixth innings, while the Seawolves added an insurance run in the sixth off an RBI double by left fielder Vanessa Currie.
The lone hit surrendered by Lipperd was a leadoff double by Triton right fielder Callie Grant in the bottom half of the first inning. Lipperd struck out five and walked three en route to improving to 5-2 on the year.
Kayla Hensel (6-3) started in the circle for UCSD and went 5.1 innings, giving up the four runs on six hits while striking out one and walking a pair. Alexis Edwards threw 1.2 scorless innings in relief.
With the score tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, third baseman Emily McQuaid and Grant got the Tritons going with back-to-back singles. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Taylor Sepulveda. Spangler came to the plate and provided the walk-off heroics, singling to right field to bring home McQuaid for the winning run.
The UCSD bats came to life in the day's second game as the Tritons finished with 11 hits. Second baseman Mckenna Clewett, Grant, McQuaid, Spangler and Willmon all had two hits apiece.
Junior right hander Jennifer Manuel earned her first win of the season with a complete game effort. She gave up eight hits, struck out one and walked two.
For Sonoma, Chinen was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Currie also finished with two hits, including a double. Amanda Llerena (4-2) went the distance, striking out two and walking none.
The Seawolves led 2-0 after scoring single runs in the first and third innings. The Tritons tied it up with runs of their own in the fourth and fifth. Clewett had an RBI single in the fourth, while McQuaid led off the fifth with a double and scored on a double by Spangler.
UCSD stole four bases in the game, two of those coming from Willmon.
The Tritons and Seawolves conclude the series with a second doubleheader at Triton Softball Field on Saturday, Feb. 23, beginning at 11 a.m. If you can’t make it to the field, follow the action online with a live audio/video broadcast or live stats.
-- UCSDtritons.com --