Photo Credits: QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE FILE
Sophomore pitcher continues historic run for UC Davis softball
Sophomore pitcher Brooke Yanez fired a no-hitter for the UC Davis softball team in Sunday’s series-winning victory over Cal Poly, striking out seven batters and walking just two.
Yanez’s sensational performance comes just 33 days removed from the perfect game she tossed against Sacramento State on March 12.
Ever since she stepped foot on campus in the Fall of 2017, Yanez has done nothing but shatter numerous program records and thoroughly dominate opposing hitters every step of the way. With a record of 20-3 so far, she has already reached the 20-win mark to go along with seven shutouts, 201 strikeouts and a 0.93 earned run average.
Despite the center field scoreboard displaying a noticeable goose egg under Cal Poly’s hit column, none of the Aggies made a point to acknowledge the no-hitter as the game progressed. Many players and coaches were so locked in to each pitch that they didn’t even realize the significance of what was unfolding in front of their eyes.
“A lot of people on my team didn’t know, but it was probably better because they’d get a little nervous,” Yanez said after the game.
“We try not to think about it and I didn’t even realize it until after the first out in the seventh inning,” added UC Davis Head Coach Erin Thorpe. “Obviously, the team kind of knows what’s going on, but we always know she’s capable of it.”
Yanez’s no-hitter was rarely in doubt on Sunday afternoon, thanks in part to a rock-solid defense behind her. Junior shortstop Isabella Leon made the defensive play of the game in the fourth inning, diving headlong to snag a bloop pop fly up the middle. The only other play that evoked any relative sense of panic was a flyout to deep center field to end the sixth inning, which was calmly handled by junior Marissa Jauregui.
“It’s so fun to be behind her, and I know she’s always out there competing,” said junior right fielder Marisa Given. “It just makes us want to go all out and do everything we can to back her up. When she’s in that zone, there’s nothing that can stop her, and so our job is to just catch the ball.”
Given provided all the offense to help the Aggies jump out to an early lead, on her way to tying a program record for most doubles in a game, with three.
“I’m seeing the ball really well right now and covering both sides of the plate, so hopefully I can just keep it up,” Given said.
Given, who leads the team with a .390 batting average and 41 hits, opened the scoring with an opposite field RBI double to left center in the bottom of the first inning. She later capped off a two-out rally in the second inning with another double to the same part of the outfield, driving home two more runs and pushing the lead to 3-0.
“My first at-bat, I was sitting on a changeup and got it,” Given said. “I knew the second at-bat that they probably weren’t going to give it to me, so I was just looking for a good strike away and got it on the first pitch.”
Junior first baseman Maddie Rojas drove home the fourth run of the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth, before her younger sister and sophomore outfielder Alyse Rojas finished off the scoring on an infield single in the sixth.
Alyse Rojas has been an extremely reliable presence out of the leadoff spot in the lineup this season, and ended the day with three hits and two runs scored.
Sunday’s victory clinched the series win over Cal Poly, after the Aggies split a doubleheader on Picnic Day. In the first game, Yanez went the distance, giving up just four hits and a run, but UC Davis fell by a final of 1-0.
“As we’re learning how to be a winning program and we’re still fairly young, we’re going to hit those bumps and bruises where we have to teach ourselves lessons in ways we don’t want to,” Thorpe explained. “These ladies work really hard and have been able to bounce. That’s part of the resiliency we’re trying to learn, but now we have to get a little better at bringing our consistency every time we get an opportunity.”
Overall, with a record of 31-8, UC Davis has already surpassed its record win total in the program’s Division I era. With Yanez and junior pitcher Katie Kibby providing a lethal 1-2 punch on the mound, there’s no telling how far this team can go as the stretch run of the season proceeds.
“We have 14 games left and are trying focus on playing it one game at a time,” Thorpe said. “Regardless of [the] win or loss, can we bring our best game to the field? Do we feel good about how we play the game at the end of the day? When you don’t focus on how many wins and losses you have, it tends to be kind of shocking when look at it every once in a while.”
UC Davis has only made one prior appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament in 2010, but that could change this season.
“As a whole, we haven’t really realized how great we can be,” Given admitted. “It’s just going to be a matter of us taking the next step and staying consistent because we know as a group we can do it.”
Written by: Brendan Ogburn — firstname.lastname@example.org