The battle for the 2016 season Big West softball championship began on Friday, as the UC Davis softball team began their Big West series-opening weekend against the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine. The Aggies and the Rainbow Wahine were 1-1 going into Saturday’s tie breaking game for the weekend opener, and the Aggies knew that the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader would be crucial in determining the start of their 2016 season.
The weekend started out rough for the Aggies, as they took a 4-1 loss in Friday’s Big West opener game, but quickly turned things around and took a 1-0 victory Saturday afternoon with senior third baseman Christina Guidry’s home run in the third inning. Excellent pitching performances from senior starter Leah Munden and senior reliever Justine Vela also helped the Aggies take the victory.
The stage was set for a great matchup in the third game of the weekend and the second of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, in which the Aggies would sweep the Rainbow Wahine, and take the 3-0 victory thanks to junior catcher Alexis Carney and sophomore right fielder Megan Salazar. Saturday’s second victory would also not have taken place without great performances from junior starting pitcher Andrea Reynolds and freshman reliever Sara Cadona.
It seemed as if Saturday’s second game was a battle between pitchers, as there were no runs on the board until the fifth inning, when senior first baseman Kelly Zboralske doubled to right field and was immediately driven home with an RBI single by Salazar. The runs did not stop there, as Carney would step up to the plate later in the inning and hit in two more runs for the Aggies.
“I knew I just needed to stay calm and relax going in,” Salazar said when asked how she approached her at bat in the fifth inning, which drove in the first run for the Aggies.
Not only did the Aggies show a solid offensive performance, but their victory was also accredited to their pitchers, Reynolds, who went five innings, giving up zero runs to receive her fourth win, and Cadona, whose hitless two innings allowed her to get her second save of Big West play.
The Aggie’s were in a tough position in the top of the sixth inning, as back-to-back singles from the Rainbow Wahine put the Aggies in a
dangerous situation, when Cadona entered the game and ended the Rainbow Wahine’s hopes for a victory.
“Going in, it wasn’t any big deal to me, I just focused on my routine,” Cadona said.
The Aggies still have some things they need to work on moving forward for the rest of Big West play.
“I think the biggest improvement we need is our consistency, and coming out believing that we are capable of doing something,” said head coach Erin Thorpe.
If opening weekend of Big West play for the UC Davis softball team is any indication of the season to come, it should be a very productive spring for the Aggies in the Big West Conference.
The Aggies continue their Big West play this weekend, beginning April 9, with a doubleheader at 1 and 3 p.m., and another game April 10 at 1 p.m. at La Rue Field against Long Beach State.
Written by Ryan Bugsch – firstname.lastname@example.org