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Davis, California

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

UC Davis stumbles in the desert

After bouncing back against Santa Clara University, UC Davis traveled down to Southern California to face some stiff competition in the Cathedral City Classic, one of the premier tournaments in Division I softball.

“We are going to be challenged,” said coach Karen Yoder going in to the tournament. “We’re facing a couple more top 25 teams [and] that’s what the preseason is all about — being challenged and having multiple experiences so we can gain confidence as we go into conference play.”

Although UC Davis won just one of five games over the weekend, the Aggies hope that the experience gained by playing tough opponents will hopefully show through the rest of the season as they work to improve their 5-12 record.

Thursday — UC Davis 6, Fordham 2
The Aggies’ offense was firing on all cylinders as UC Davis started off well in their first tournament game against Fordham. With strong performances by Megan Guzman, who went 4 for 4, and Heather Zimmerman, who had a two-run home run in the third inning, the Aggies put together numerous offensive outbursts with 10 hits by seven players.

Justine Vela also continued her great play with five shutout innings of relief and only allowed one hit  to finish off the Aggie victory.

Thursday — No. 6 Oklahoma 10, UC Davis 0
In the second game of the tournament, UC Davis kept up early with sixth ranked Oklahoma but would eventually be put away as it lost in five innings.

Walks became a major issue for starter Vela as the Sooner batters walked eight times by the fourth inning to help them move to a 7-0 lead against the Aggies.

Along with struggling to contain Oklahoma’s offense, UC Davis also had difficulty getting runners on base with Cassandra Ginnis and Kelly Schulze providing the only Aggie hits in the shutout loss.

Friday — No. 11 Missouri 11, UC Davis 0
Looking to forget the previous night’s game, UC Davis instead was shutout for the second time in two games against No. 11 ranked Missouri.

With the Tigers striking early­­ — hitting three home runs to help them post eight runs in the first three innings — the Aggies missed multiple scoring opportunities and were unable to keep the game close.

Missouri pitcher Bailey Erwin and the rest of the Tiger defense came up big when it counted in their shutout win as UC Davis failed to convert a bases-loaded situation in the first as well as an opportunity in the fourth, when Kendra Campbell and Rachael Miller were on third and second base with no outs.

Saturday — New Mexico 7, UC Davis 5
UC Davis’ final day of the Cathedral City Classic began against 13-1 New Mexico. Although the Lobos would score four runs by the third inning, the Aggies would take a 5-4 lead into the fifth thanks to RBI singles by Miller, Kelly Harman and Chandler Wagner.

Unfortunately for the Aggies, this lead would not last as Aggie starter Jessica Thweatt surrendered three runs in the fifth inning to put the Lobos ahead for good.

Saturday — Syracuse 5, UC Davis 3
The final game of the tournament was a disappointing end for the Aggies as Syracuse overcame a late 3-0 deficit and a fantastic outing by starter Vela to come back and win the game.

The Aggies came out fighting with Vela shutting down the Syracuse offense early with five strikeouts in five innings.

UC Davis gave Vela support with Amy Nunez, Schulze and Miller all driving in runs to set up a 3-0 lead in the sixth.

Syracuse showed determination however, hitting a sixth inning two-run home run that cut the lead to one going into the final inning. With the Aggies unable to extend their lead in the seventh, the Orange took advantage with an RBI double to tie the game and finally, a crippling walk-off two-run homer to send UC Davis home with only one win on the weekend.

The Aggies will look for a better result closer to home as they travel to face rival Sacramento State on Wednesday.

DOUG BONHAM can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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