Loud chants of encouragement echoed throughout La Rue Field on Friday, Feb. 12, as the UC Davis women’s softball team hosted the Aggie Kick Off. The Aggies played their first game of the tournament — and the season — facing off against the Montana Grizzlies.
In their first inning of the season, the Aggies made quick work of the Grizzlies’ offense. Junior center fielder Brianna Warner started the bottom of the first with a base hit to left and stole second. Warner advanced to third when junior third baseman Alexis Carney doubled to center on a full count. With two runners in scoring position, junior catcher Taiya McInnes grounded out to pick up the first RBI of the season.
Up by one run, the Aggies looked for another quick inning, but the Grizzlies picked up their offensive game. A double and a single put two runners on for Montana freshman first baseman Sydney Stites. In Stites’ first collegiate at bat, the freshman homered to left field to give the Grizzlies a 3-1 lead.
With the top of the order up in the bottom of the third, the Aggies were able to add another run with a RBI single from freshman second baseman Meghan Bradbury. Warner scored for a second time after she was walked, and stole second base once more. At the end of the third inning, Montana led UC Davis 3-2.
Walks in the fifth hurt both pitchers, with only one hit from Montana and none from UC Davis, but Montana added another run in the fifth from a ground out.
The Aggies looked poised to make some noise in the bottom half of the inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Unfortunately, the softball team failed to make Montana pay by only adding one run from a groundout to short by senior shortstop Alicia Paine. After hopes of a big inning, the team could not capitalize, down 4-3.
Following a fifth inning that saw both teams try to add more to their run total, the sixth and seventh were very quiet. The sixth inning saw each
team go three up, three down in their respective halves. The seventh saw the side retired on both sides and the Aggies were unable to make a comeback, losing 4-3.
In the game, the team left nine runners on base which significantly hurt their chances to ever retake the lead after the second inning.
“I think it’s something where we’re just looking for some consistency,” said head coach Erica Thorpe. “And then some attack mode on our offense [from our players at the plate].”
With some good offensive innings in game one, the Aggies looked to find consistent offense and to stay aggressive at the plate in their next game against Sacramento State, held immediately after the showdown with the Grizzlies.
“You have to learn to be successful,” Thorpe said. “It starts from wanting to be in the opportunities to make things happen.”
After some offense in their first game against Montana, the game against Sac State saw very little in a pitchers duel. Senior pitcher Leah Munden
took the mound for the Aggies, and, after giving up a couple early hits, was able to find a way to get out of it.
Munden was incredible as she pitched five shutout innings on five hits. Munden’s counterpart, Sac State freshman pitcher Savanna Corr pitched just as well. Through three innings, the Aggies were held hitless, but found some life in the bottom of the fourth.
Carney nabbed the Aggies’ first hit with a double down the left field line. In scoring position, the team looked to make something happen, but Corr kept the Ags at bay.
Both teams were scoreless through five innings as senior Justine Vela replaced Munden for the top of the sixth. In Vela’s first inning, the Hornets had a runner on third with two down after a sacrifice bunt. Sac State had hopes of scoring the first run of the ball game, but Vela thought otherwise after striking out the Sac State hitter.
Corr sent the Aggies packing in the bottom of the sixth with a one, two, three inning. Vela followed that up in the seventh by retiring the side herself. Vela helped put the Aggies in good position to win the game with a walk off heading into the seventh all knotted up at zero.
The UC Davis softball team found some life after McInnes singled and advanced to second on a ground out. Senior outfielder Kaila Olson replaced McInnes at second to give the Aggies some speed with a runner in scoring position and two down. The Ags had Corr in serious trouble for the first time all game, but Corr was unphased. Paine came to the plate, but flied out to left field to head into extra innings.
Towards the end of the game, visibility was fairly non-existent on La Rue field, which has no artificial sources of light. Heading into the top of the eighth inning, the umpires called for a halted game, meaning this game will resume at a later date. With the score still tied at zero, UC Davis and Sac State will pick up where they left off at some point during the season.
“We were very fortunate today to be put in a lot of situations where we did have runners on base and runners in scoring position,” Thorpe said. “To see how we reacted to that early in the season is really good because now we can make those adjustments.”
As the season carries on, expect the Aggies to make those adjustments and execute in big game situations.
The UC Davis softball team will return home to play Iowa State on Feb. 25.
Written by Michael Martinez – firstname.lastname@example.org