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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Despite late rally, UC Davis falls to UC Berkeley in extra innings

Libbie McMahan’s late heroics are not enough as the UC Davis Softball team drops to 13-7 on the season

 

By CAROLYN (CARI) FENN — sports@theaggie.org

 

 The Aggies’ softball team couldn’t keep up with their four-game win streak from the previous weekend, losing 8-5 to UC Berkeley on Tuesday, March 7 at La Rue Field. Despite losing the game by three runs, UC Davis displayed tremendous resiliency and rallied back to tie the game in the seventh inning, sending the game to extra innings.

Because UC Berkeley is a part of the PAC-12 Conference and UC Davis is a part of the Big West, their faceoff is a once- maybe twice-a-year occurrence — depending on outside tournaments. And the rare match up was going to be tough for Davis, as UC Berkeley’s ranking by the NCAA at 29 and UC Davis at 56. With the two teams in different conferences, there isn’t much opportunity for the players to face off, which could’ve been the cause of UC Davis’s struggles in the middle of the game. 

Pitching for the Aggies was third-year Pitcher Kenedi Brown, who was named Pitcher of the Week by the Big West Conference. After pitching her second career no hitter earlier in the season and being 6-3 this season, it is no surprise that UC Davis Head Coach Erin Thorpe would have her pitch against one of their most challenging opponents. 

To start the game, the Aggies appeared to threaten Cal with their outstanding pitching. Brown was able to maintain her 0.00 ERA, keeping UC Berkeley from even touching first base for the first two innings. Along with their strong start defensively, UC Davis took the lead 1-0 by the end of the first inning thanks to an RBI by third-year shortstop Libbie McMahan that brought in third-year outfielder and catcher Anna Dethlefson across home plate.

Despite Brown keeping her strong 0.00 ERA in the third inning, only allowing a single walk, UC Davis’s offense didn’t carry on into the inning. For the next four innings, UC Berkeley’s third-year pitcher Sona Halajian prevented the Aggies from hitting the ball and did not allow any runs across home plate. The only times the Aggies were able to get on base came as the result of walks or the batter getting hit by a pitch. 

While the Aggies were struggling to get hits, UC Berkeley was able to get the better of Brown, scoring two runs in the fourth inning and taking a 2-1 lead.  

In the sixth inning, UC Davis’s defense began to fall apart as well. UC Berkeley capitalized on two errors by the Aggie defense, scoring three runs and jumping to a 5-1 lead.

While a home run by UC Berkeley’s third-year infielder D’Asha Saiki that brought two of Cal’s players across home plate was unavoidable, one of the runs was a result of an error by the UC Davis defense.

The first run of the sixth inning by Cal came as a result of a throwing error by UC Davis’s third-year third baseman Bella Pahulu, allowing UC Berkeley’s third-year catcher Amanda Kondo to score. 

Despite UC Davis’s defensive struggles at the top of the sixth inning, the offense came back strong, letting their bats fly and starting a comeback. McMahan blasted a home run deep to left field, cutting the deficit to three.

The Aggies’ defense kept Cal from scoring in the top of the seventh inning, giving the offense one last opportunity to even the score. However, they were down by a margin of three and against a PAC-12 team, so this was no easy feat. 

In the bottom of the seventh inning, McMahan once again set her mark by hitting the ball to the left side of the field, allowing Dethlefson to cross home plate on an RBI, narrowing UC Berkeley’s lead to just a two-point difference. 

With two outs and two strikes posted on the scoreboard, the win probability was low, but the Aggies had players on first and second base. It seemed as if the game was nearing its end until third-year right fielder Sarah Starks sent the ball flying down center field. This hit led both third-year utility player Leah Polson and McMahan to score and tie the game, 5-5. However, the Aggies could not close, and the inning ended on outs, leading to extra innings. 

Despite UC Davis’s impressive rally against UC Berkeley, Cal proved to be the stronger team in the game’s extra inning. UC Berkeley was able to muster up three runs with four hits in the eighth inning and the Aggies came up with zero hits and zero runs. Cal ultimately secured the win 8-5. 

The Aggies’ performance seemed to be very unpredictable throughout the game. There were strong moments by both the offense and defense, but with no consistency, it was only a matter of time until the opposition would capitalize.

However, one player that shined during the game was McMahan. Her four at-bats resulted in three hits, three RBIs and one home run. While this was a difficult loss for the Aggies, they displayed resilience, forcing UC Berkeley — who is 17-4 overall —  into extra innings. 

In their next outings, the Aggies defeated Rhode Island (4-3) and San Jose State (3-1) on Friday, March 10 in San Jose. On March 11, UC Davis traveled to Santa Clara and defeated Utah State University (7-6) and fell to Santa Clara (3-2).

The Aggies will travel to Southern California to open their Big West Conference play against Cal State Fullerton in a double header on March 17.

 

Written by: Carolyn (Cari) Fenn — sports@theaggie.org