Aggies win five of six games in four days
The UC Davis softball team took first place at the annual Aggie Invitational this past weekend, going 5-1 and pushing themselves to 11-3 on the season. The tournament kicked off at La Rue field on Thursday and welcomed teams from University of Texas at El Paso, Seattle University, Idaho State and Saint Mary’s.
The Aggies swept their double header series against UTEP and Seattle University on Thursday and Friday, before losing a close game versus Idaho State on Saturday. But despite facing their first six-game weekend this season, they had plenty left in the tank headed into Sunday’s matchup against Saint Mary’s.
The Aggies gained an advantage early, scoring two runs in the second inning, providing all the run support senior pitcher Sara Cadona and junior pitcher Katie Kibby would need to shutout the Gaels. But even with a bitter winter wind kicking up dirt from La Rue field, the Aggies weren’t finished. They tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the sixth that put Saint Mary’s out for good.
“I think we learned a lot this weekend,” said Head Coach Erin Thorpe. “We were not consistent, and we didn’t play our best games, but we’re continuing to build and seeing how we respond and what we need to do to stay consistent.”
Only 14 games into the long season, the Aggies are already showing signs of a team ready to do damage in the Big West, grinding out tough wins on a tough schedule all while not fully in rhythm.
“It’s all about getting in a groove,” Thorpe said. “Our season is 57 games long. It’s really long, and it’s really grueling so we want to be playing our best ball at the right time.”
For one Aggie, the bar of excellence continues to rise, her best ball knowing no time frame. Sophomore pitcher Brooke Yanez is coming off a glittering freshman campaign in 2018 where she was named to the All-Big West First Team and won Freshman Pitcher of the Year.
Yanez continued to shine this weekend, opening the tournament by striking out a career-high 15 batters on Thursday before capturing her sixth and seventh wins on Friday and Saturday and lowering her ERA to 1.63 on the year. But in her second season, the sophomore ace is proving that her dominance may reach far beyond the chalk outline of the pitching circle.
“Brooke’s biggest asset is that she’s just a competitor,” Thorpe said. “She did a lot of work in the offseason to work on her swing and get her swing in a better spot this year, and I think she’s feeling some confidence with that now.”
So far this season, Yanez is batting .400 with two home runs – including one this weekend – providing an offensive boost to a lineup that Thorpe admits will need to find a way to support Aggie pitchers when they’re inevitably not throwing shutouts.
“It’s just going to be them kind of figuring it out through the season and figuring out what they need to do to be successful,” Thorpe said. “So, continuing to work on that consistency and getting better at that throughout the season is going to be our main focus.”
The grind continues for the Aggies this upcoming weekend at the San Diego Classic, where they are slated to play five games in three days.
Written by: Carson Parodi – firstname.lastname@example.org