After dropping nine of 13 games, the UC Davis softball team returned to its early-season form to go 4-1 at the NIST Tournament.
It looked to keep that hot streak alive over spring break as it began play with a commanding win over Cal State Bakersfield.
The Aggies then had two tough games with No. 23 Fresno State before closing out the weekend by taking one game in a series with defending Big West Conference champion Long Beach State.
Monday – UC Davis 9, Cal State Bakersfield 0 (5)
What began as a pitching duel quickly developed into a UC Davis rout as the Aggies defeated the Roadrunners handily at the Roadrunner Softball Complex.
The Aggies led 1-0 when they came up to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Junior Marissa Araujo promptly singled in junior Caitlin Low for her second RBI of the contest. Sophomore Jessica Gonzalez followed with an RBI single and senior Belinda Paine brought home the final run of the inning on a bases-loaded single.
The Aggies exploded for five more in the fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run home run from Araujo, who went 3-for-3 on the day with four RBI.
“It was a nice game from Marissa,” said coach Karen Yoder. “She was seeing the ball like a beach ball.“
Senior Jessica Hancock threw four scoreless innings to pick up her 10th win of the season.
Tuesday – Game 1: No. 23 Fresno State 3, UC Davis 0
The Aggies have had trouble keeping their errors to a minimum this season, and two against Fresno State hurt them in the first game of a doubleheader.
“Defensive miscues hurt us,” Yoder said. “We have to take care of the ball and get fundamental outs.“
The Bulldogs jumped on the Aggies‘ mistakes early as they scored three unearned runs in the first inning. Sophomore Ryane Peterson drove in two runs for the Bulldogs in the inning.
Fresno State sophomore starting pitcher Morgan Melloh tossed a complete game shutout, striking out 11 batters in the process.
“I have to say hats off to their pitcher for her performance,” Yoder said.
Tuesday – Game 2: No. 23 Fresno State 2, UC Davis 1 (8)
Pitching was the story in the second game of the double dip as the two teams entered the top of the eighth in a scoreless tie.
The Aggies broke through with a run in the top of the frame when sophomore Bianca Castillo singled in Araujo, who led off the inning with a double.
Sophomore Alex Holmes, who pitched seven flawless innings, could not keep it going in the bottom half of the eighth, as the Bulldogs scored twice to win the game.
“Holmes got a little tight,” Yoder said. “With a 1-0 lead, she hit a batter allowing them to come out on top. You have to be able to shut the door in that situation.“
Saturday – Game 1: Long Beach State 2, UC Davis 0
The Aggies had trouble pushing runs across for the third straight game as they were shut out by the 49ers, 2-0.
UC Davis was only able to accumulate five hits in the contest, as Long Beach starter Brooke Turner threw 100 pitches to blank the Aggies.
Hancock threw 4.2 innings while only giving up one earned run, but suffered the loss to drop her record to 10-8 on the season.
Saturday – Game 2: UC Davis 2, Long Beach State 0 (8)
Whether she was in the pitching circle or at the plate, Holmes was having her way with the 49ers on Saturday.
The San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native threw eight scoreless innings and drove in the two runs to give the Aggies the 2-0 victory.
The game was a scoreless tie going into the top half of the eighth inning.
After two Aggies reached base, Holmes belted a two-run double to give UC Davis the lead after being held scoreless through the first 14 innings of the day.
The 49ers provided a scare in the bottom of the inning as they loaded the bases, but Holmes was able to escape the situation and collect her third shutout of the season.
Sunday – Long Beach State 4, UC Davis 3 (9)
In a weekend with plenty of drama, it was no surprise that the final game of the series between the two clubs would be decided in extra innings.
UC Davis began the game with two runs in the top of the first as junior Sarah Axelson drove in both with a double.
The 49ers would score in the bottom of the second only to be matched by one from the Aggies in the top of the third.
With UC Davis ahead 3-1, Long Beach State scored twice in the bottom of the third to tie the game.
Neither team would score again until the 49ers pushed one across in the ninth inning on a double from senior Jennifer Griffin to defeat the Aggies and take the series.
Hancock began the game for the Aggies, but was only able to complete 2.1 innings while giving up three runs.
While UC Davis may have dropped the series and lost four of six on their road stretch, Yoder was still optimistic about her team’s performance as Big West play gets into full swing.
“For us to have two extra-inning games with the defending Big West Conference champions was big,” Yoder said. “I am proud of the team. We are learning and growing and are going to make some waves this season.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com.