One month ago, if you were to say the softball team would win only one game all month, somebody might have called you crazy.
One month ago, the team held a winning mark at 15-13 overall and was firing on all cylinders with a dynamic pitching staff and an explosive offense.
But then March happened.
The Aggies lost 11 straight games by an average of 2.9 runs, as the offense went on a slump, producing a .167 batting average during the stretch.
“We have to remain positive,” head coach Karen Yoder said. “We need to find a way to come through and drive in those runners in scoring position. I think it will all start coming together for us in the final 16 games of the season.”
Finally, after a month of struggling, the Aggies welcome April with a win over Pacific in a three-game conference road series.
Saturday – Game 1: UC Davis 2, Pacific 1
When the offense was sputtering, there was always Jessica Hancock.
On Saturday, the offensive came through, and Hancock didn’t disappoint.
UC Davis took an early two-run lead, and the junior right-hander protected it with a four-hit complete game to earn her first victory since Mar. 9.
“Jessica has just been the best,” Yoder said. “I’m really proud of how well she’s been pitching – really helping to keep us in games. We just have to give her more run support to help her get some more victories.”
Leadoff speedster Michelle Espiritu started off the game with an infield single and advanced to second on a sac-bunt by Julie Stauder.
Junior catcher Deanna Menapace then laced an RBI double to right to score Espiritu from second – recording the first run of the game.
With two outs in the third, Stauder scored the second run of the game off a throwing error to make the score 2-0.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh that Pacific showed life offensively, as Lauren Weyman hit a solo jack off Hancock. But for the Tigers, it was too little, too late.
Saturday – Game 2: Pacific 5, UC Davis 4
Bianca Castillo was looking for her first collegiate hit, and she found it in a big way.
The freshman from North High School in Bakersfield launched a solo home run over the left field wall, helping to pull UC Davis to a 3-3 second inning tie.
The Tigers didn’t hesitate to respond, knocking in a pair of runs at the bottom of the second to take back the lead.
UC Davis would pull to within one run after an RBI single by sophomore Erin Emde scored Stauder, but Pacific’s Alyce Jorgensen and Chelsea Engle combined for four scoreless innings in a 5-4 Tigers victory at Bill Simoni Field.
Holmes was hit with the loss, her 11th of the season, pushing her ERA to 4.61 on the year.
Sunday – Pacific 5, UC Davis 1
The first thirteen batters of the game were retired, and there were only three hits entering the bottom of the fifth inning.
Sunday’s contest had all the ingredients of a classic pitching duel, but the defense, however, did not follow suit.
Four of Pacific’s five runs came unearned, as a Hancock gem was spoiled in a 5-1 Tigers victory.
Hancock threw six strong innings, allowing only one earned run with four strikeouts. Engle pitched well in the circle, as well, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out six for the complete game.
With the pair of losses, the Aggies drop to 16-26 overall and 1-5 in conference play while Pacific improved their record to 21-23 (3-3).
In their next outing, the Aggies will take the field at Cal State Fullerton in another three-game Big West Conference series.
“Our conference has been beating up each other all season,” Yoder said. “Any team can win on any given day – it’s all up in the air. Our focus will be to play our game and for us to start producing with runners in scoring position. We’ll start being more successful.”
MATT MILLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.