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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UC Davis’ offensive struggles end in sweep at the hands of CSU Northridge 

The Aggies offense continues to leave runners on base, losing five of their last six

 

By MARLON ROLON — sports@theaggie.org

 

Starting pitcher Kenedi Brown struggled on the mound, allowing three runs off four hits with four strikeouts throughout seven innings in game one of the double header against Cal State Northridge last Friday afternoon at La Rue Field. The offense attempted to help out their pitcher, generating hits but struggled to bring runners home, ultimately falling 3-1 and 7-2 in game two after allowing five runs in the seventh inning. 

“I don’t think today was [Kenedi Brown’s] best performance, but overall she’s done nicely in progressing,” said UC Davis Softball Head Coach Erin Thorpe. “It’s tough because we haven’t had a ton of offense behind her. She’s having to really work in that zone knowing that may happen.”

Opportunities came in the second inning for UC Davis after senior infield slugger Delaney Diaz doubled to left center field, advancing Libbie McMahan to third until she was called out attempting to cross home plate. A few plays later, first-year Reese Mattley reached second base while Diaz advanced to third only for them to be stranded after third-year Alyssa Ito hit a pop up fly to end the inning. 

Trouble started for the Aggies in the top of the third after Brown walked a batter, allowing  two hits, a home run and three runs scored. 

“The 12 losses is not indicative of how well she’s pitched this year,” Thorpe said. “She’s doing a nice job of keeping a level head with that and having that understanding, and I think she’s doing a really nice job adjusting now into her second season of playing”.

UC Davis’ only run came in the bottom of the third off an RBI single by McMahan that brought sophomore Anna Dethlefson, who was previously hit by a pitch, across home plate. The inning ended with two runners stranded on base, a common occurrence that has plagued the team throughout the season.

The Aggies left six runners in scoring position in their 3-1 loss. In total, they had four- hits throughout the contest and their best hitter, Dethlefson, was 0-3 at bat.

 

Game 2

Second-year pitcher Taylor Fitzgerald (4-6) started the game on the mound for UC Davis. The second-year was off to a rocky start within the first three innings, allowing six hits, including a home run and two runs scored. 

The Aggies offensive woes followed them early into game two, mustering only one hit throughout the first three innings. If they were going to be competitive, the pitching was going to have to be stellar to make up for the lack of hits early in the ball game. 

That is when second-year Fitzgerald stepped up, keeping CSUN hitless from the fourth through the sixth inning. 

“I thought she did well,” Thorpe said. “She’s come off a couple of tough performances, and it was really good to see her come out, struggle, but get out of some things early with minimal damage and to kind of really start to feel that flow. [It was] what she needed to do.”

Despite being in an offensive funk, the Aggies got their rhythm flowing in the bottom of the fourth when Mattley singled through the right side of the field. Diaz followed with a line drive through center field. On the next play, second-year Bella Pahulu grounded into a double play to end the inning.

With Fitzgerald in a groove on the mound, she was keeping the Aggies in the game. In the bottom of the fifth, first-year Grace Kilday made an appearance in the hit column with a single down the left infield line. Her teammate Dethlefson smacked the ball to left field, but teammates third-year Sommer Kisling and second-year Sarah Starks could not get on base prompting quick outs to leave two runners stranded. 

 Being down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, UC Davis loaded up the bases off a McMahan single, Mattley walk and Pahulu hit by a pitch. Yet, the Aggies could not bring any of them home — Kilday hitt a pop up and second-year Sarah Nakahara struck out.  

“Through six innings, we had 10 batters come up with a runner in scoring position and we got 10 outs,” Thorpe said. “So it was kind of one of those things where we have the right people up in the right situations and today was not their day.”

Fitzgerald could only keep the CSUN’s dormant offense at bay for so long. In the top of the seventh, the second-year pitcher succumbed to the Matadors’ potent offense, allowing three hits and three runs.

Still in the same inning, the bases were loaded when UC Davis coach Thorpe decided to make a pitching change after a five score barrage. Second-year pitcher Sara Reineman came in relief to close the inning. 

Instead of going out quietly, the Aggies’ infielder Kisling smacked the ball down the right field line to get the offense going. Her teammate infielder Starks followed through with a powerful swing that sent the ball deep down into the infield line, giving enough time for Kisling to reach third base. After a pair of hits by Mattley and Diaz, the home team was finally able to cross home plate scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

It was too little too late as CSUN closed the show, 7-2, winning the double header Friday afternoon.

 

Game 3

In a close game, a home run in the fifth inning proved to be the difference in concluding the Big West Conference series between UC Davis and Cal State Northridge. 

The Aggies started Kenedi Brown on the mound, looking to stop the team’s two-game losing skid. Brown got off on the wrong foot when CSUN’s Alexis Lemus crushed the ball out of the ballpark. 

The second-year pitcher continued her slump in the second inning after Alexa Landeas tripled deep into center field. Then Brown proceeded to walk two consecutive batters, loading up the bases that eventually led to two runs off of two hits. 

Aggie slugger Dethlefsen answered back with a single to left field. Starks would send her teammate to third base off a single to the right side of La Rue Field. Dethlefesen would cross home plate after an RBI from Mattley who has been consistent on the plate throughout the series for UC Davis. 

The bottom of the second inning came to an end when Ito grounded out, leaving two Aggies on base, again wasting scoring opportunities which has been the theme in this series. 

However, the offense reemerged in the fourth, the home team scored twice off three-hits from Ito, McMahan and Diaz evening up the score 3-3.

However, the tie didn’t last very long. In the top of the fifth, Brown recorded two easy outs and allowed a homer that saw the ball fly out of left center field. The home run would eventually be the difference maker in the game as the Aggies fell 4-3, getting swept in the process. 

Overall, UC Davis had eight hits in the game while leaving 10 runners stranded on base. Brown had another forgettable game, allowing five hits, six walks, four runs and struck out five batters. She fell to 11-12 on the season while the Aggies dropped to 18-21 and 6-9 in conference play.

“Not a lot of people hit Kenedi, so it’s kind of a surprise when they do. I think she really did a nice job of adjusting and working to determine what the strike zone was going to be. She did a really nice job,” Thorpe said. 

 

The 400 Milestone

Coach Thorpe has notched 397 wins under her coaching career. She won 50 games at Whittier College, 173 with Boise State and currently has 174 with UC Davis. While at Boise State, Thorpe was the first ever softball coach in program history, leading the Broncos to 30 win seasons three times.

“I think it’s awesome, it’s important for coaches to celebrate those milestones. All that really tells me is that I’m old,” Thorpe said. 

Thorpe was hired in the summer of 2014 as the UC Davis softball head coach. She was brought in to change the culture within the program. In 2018 she did just that, leading the Aggies to their first winning record in 11 years (27-24). In 2019, she led them to an impressive 39-14 record. 

“I kind of assess it in a different way, and I’m kind of a coach that’s gone into programs that were struggling; that’s been my M.O. or starting programs from scratch,” Thorpe said. “I’m not chasing wins in the jobs that I choose to take; I mean that’s awesome, and that’s great, and I think it should be celebrated. If you ask me, I should’ve been there a long time ago, but it is kinda cool to know.”

With 13 games left in the season, the odds are in favor for coach Thorpe to secure her well deserved 400th career win. 

 

Big West Conference

The end of the season is approaching, UC Davis (6-9) is sitting in the seventh slot in the standings. Cal State Fullerton (12-3) is in first, Long Beach State (12-3) is in second, Hawaii (9-6) sits in third, Cal Poly (9-6) is in fourth, UC San Diego (8-7) is in fifth and UC Riverside (7-8) is in sixth. CSU Northridge (6-9), UC Santa Barbara (3-12), and CSU Bakersfield (3-12) all sit behind the Aggies in the standings. 

The Aggies play Cal in Berkeley (4/19) in a non-conference game. They end the season against conference foes such as San Diego, Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Hawaii. UC Davis can still finish within the top three but they must win the series against their conference opponents. 

“It’s one of those things were we got to keep them focused on continuing to get better and fighting, and a lot of it is going to come from inside them as a group as well and their belief in each other; learning and understanding of what they’re capable of and believing in that and then going out and playing a little more confident,” Thorpe said. 

 

Written by: Marlon Rolon — sports@theaggie.org

 

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