LA JOLLA, Calif. – Callie Grant made a game-saving diving catch with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and scored a run offensively to power UC San Diego over Cal State Dominguez Hills, 2-0, in the nightcap to seal the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series win, 3-1, at Triton Softball Field Saturday. The Toros took game one, 3-2, in a rain-delayed affair.
The Tritons conclude the regular season at 33-14 overall and 22-10 in CCAA play. UCSD finishes third in league play and will be the No. 3 seed at the CCAA Championship on May 2-4 at Arnaiz Stadium in Turlock.
CSUDH ends their season at 17-35 overall and 11-25 in league play.
Prior to Saturday’s doubleheader, UCSD seniors Emily McQuaid, Caitlin Brown, Jennifer Manuel, Mya Romero and Kirsten Willmon were honored before their final home games at Triton Softball Field. The five seniors helped bring in the program’s first National Championship, a National Runner-Up finish and an NCAA Regional appearance the past three seasons. The senior class currently holds a .674 winning percentage, the highest in the Division II era.
The Toros scored a run in the second, third and fourth innings and received a strong pitching performance from Jamie Duran to win the opener, 3-2. Duran finished with a complete-game win with two strikeouts.
The Tritons out-hit CSUDH 8-5, but left seven runners on base en route to the defeat.
The offense was led by two hits apiece from Grant, Bianca Devoto and Willmon, while Romero finished with a pair of RBI.
After the Toros jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, UCSD plated a run on two hits in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit in half. Romero singled home Grant, who singled on a bunt, with a sharp hit ball through the right side.
CSUDH answered with a run to extend the lead back to 3-1, which proved to be the game-winning run.
In the bottom of the fifth and down a run, UCSD loaded the bases with three straight singles with no outs. After a fly-out, Romero plated a run with a groundout before a lineout ended the threat.
The Tritons were shut down the final two frames to seal the win for CSUDH.
The series finale proved to be a pitchers duel between Manuel and Toro starter Karen Peterson, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Manuel (8-5) proved to be a few pitches better and earned her second consecutive complete-game shutout of the Toros. The senior celebrated her final game at Triton Softball Field with her eighth career complete-game shutout after only allowing five hits and striking out two.
She received help from her defense in the sixth after CSUDH loaded the bases with one out. Before Grant’s heroics in center field, Manuel took matters into her own hands with a swinging strikeout to record the second out. The threat was ended by Grant’s all-out dive after ranging to her right for a ball that seemed destined to clear the bases.
The Tritons, fueled by the home crowd, carried the momentum from the spectacular defensive play into the offensive end in the bottom half of the sixth.
Katie Saunders led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by a McQuaid bunt. Grant followed with a single through the left side to put runners on the corners with one out. A successful double steal of second and home produced the first run, as Saunders just beat the throw home after a slight delay steal.
After a groundout, Amani Proctor sharply hit a ball to third that squeezed under the glove of the third baseman for an error to plate Grant and make the score 2-0.
Manuel allowed a two-out double in the seventh, but kept the shutout intact after inducing a pop out to McKenna Clewett to seal the 2-0 win.
The Tritons were out-hit 5-3, but stranded eight Toros on the base paths.
Grant led the offense with two hits, while Saunders recorded the final knock. Grant and Proctor recorded stolen base number 15 and 16 in the win, respectively.
UCSD heads to the 2014 CCAA softball championship on May 2-4 at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton. The Tritons will face No. 2 seed Humboldt State in the first round. A full schedule will be released by the CCAA this week.