After Wednesday’s game against Sacramento State was postponed due to rain, the Aggies traveled down to Riverside over the weekend to compete in the Highlander Classic.
UC Davis, with many of its players dealing with flu-like symptoms all week, would win one of three close, low-scoring games in the tournament.
With their record on the season now 6-14, the Aggies return to Northern California to face undefeated and number-one-ranked California on Wednesday before hosting this weekend’s Aggie Stampede II.
Saturday — Portland State University 3, UC Davis 1
The first game of the tournament was against the Portland State Vikings, who had already handed out blowout defeats to Big West Conference teams Long Beach State and Cal Poly.
The Aggies, however, lead by pitcher junior Jessica Thweatt’s terrific six-inning one-earned-run effort, would not go down in the same fashion. Thweatt, while allowing an early run in the first, regained composure and kept the Viking batters off balance in the following innings with six strikeouts.
Unfortunately, UC Davis’ offense never found a similar rhythm, only managing five hits on the day with two coming from junior Megan Guzman.
Although an RBI from freshman Kayla Tyler tied the game at one in the fourth inning, two unearned Viking runs in the fifth and sixth allowed Portland State to put the game away.
Sunday — UC Davis 2, Maine 0
Freshman Justine Vela showed why she is the other half of UC Davis’ fantastic starting duo by throwing 13 strikeouts in a complete game shutout against Maine on Sunday.
Vela rolled through the struggling Black Bear batters, allowing only three hits all game with no runners reaching scoring position.
“She’s done a tremendous job” said head coach Karen Yoder. “The more that she gets innings and experience, the more confident she becomes.”
The Aggie batters, while only scoring two runs, also pounced on Maine as seven different UC Davis players racked up 10 hits. Junior Kelly Schulze and freshmen Cassandra Ginnis and Amy Nunez led the team with two hits apiece in the win.
Sunday — South Carolina 3, UC Davis 2
Coming off a strong showing against Maine, the Aggies hoped to carry over the momentum in their final game of the tournament against the Gamecocks. Unfortunately, although UC Davis held a 2-0 lead in the fourth, South Carolina tallied three runs in a fourth-inning rally and held off a sixth-inning threat from the Aggies to win the game.
Tyler and Nunez continued their great tournament performances as each pulled off two hits and an RBI for UC Davis early on. Vela, who relieved starter Thweatt in a bases-loaded situation in the second, had a solid game as well, only allowing three runs in five innings in a game in which the Gamecocks stranded nine runners on base.
With South Carolina holding a 3-2 lead with two outs in the sixth, the Aggies were unable to drive in runners on second and third to tie or take the lead as the Gamecocks held on for the victory.
As UC Davis prepares for the highly anticipated match-up against Cal tomorrow, the team will hope to use its experience gained from a difficult preseason to pull off the upset.
“We [need] to regroup, have a good practice and come out strong on Wednesday,” said Yoder.
DOUG BONHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.