Coming off a difficult road trip in San Diego, UC Davis bounced back with a 3-2 win as it traveled to the Bay Area to face Santa Clara University.
After a few tough losses against nationally ranked teams in the first week of play, the Aggies entered the game hungry for a victory. With the win over the Broncos, UC Davis moved to 4-8 on the season.
Freshman pitcher Justine Vela was the story of the game, ripping apart Santa Clara University’s batters with 15 strikeouts in a complete game effort. Vela was relentless from the start, striking out three in the opening inning and setting the tone in the home opener for the struggling Broncos.
“I was really proud of her performance,” said coach Karen Yoder about Vela.”[Especially] the tenacity that she had on the mound.”
Despite the great effort from Vela, however, the Aggies’ offense struggled to capitalize offensively, with Santa Clara starting pitcher Jessica Turner keeping UC Davis off the scoreboard until the fourth inning when Kayla Tyler, who was pinch running for Rachael Miller, scored during a double-play.
Cassandra Ginnis and Alison Smith would add two more runs in the fifth inning for the Aggies off of center-field singles by Tyler and Kelly Schulze.
With a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Santa Clara drew within a run after an inside-the-park home run by Bronco speedster Stephanie Fisher. This play seemed to temporarily shift the momentum away from the Aggies as Santa Clara made a great defensive play in the next inning to get out of a bases-loaded situation unscathed.
“It was a tense game,” Yoder said , “but we’ve got to make sure we have timely hitting and execute putting runners across when they are in scoring position.”
Vela, however, would put any fears of a Bronco comeback to rest, stepping up again by striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth, as well as putting the Broncos away with two more strikeouts in the final inning to seal the Aggie victory.
“This team just has a large amount of fight and focus” Yoder said, “[And] that’s going to take us places.”
UC Davis will return to Southern California this weekend to play five games in the Cathedral City Classic tournament.
DOUG BONHAM can be reached at email@example.com.