The UC San Diego softball team defeated Cal State San Bernardino, 3-1, on Friday evening in the first leg of the NCAA West Super Regional at Triton Softball Field. The Tritons, the No. 1 seed in the West Region, must win at least one of two possible games on Saturday afternoon against No. 7 CSUSB to earn its first berth to the NCAA National Championships, May 26-30, in Salem, Va.
Camille Gaito (30-4) became UCSD’s first pitcher to win 30 games in a single season, throwing her fourth complete game of the NCAA Tournament while only giving up a single earned run. Gaito struck out eight Coyotes on the afternoon, limiting CSUSB to just five hits and a .192 average.
If the Tritons win on Saturday, their ticket is punched to Virginia.
“It is awesome and overwhelming to know we’re this close,” said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. “We didn’t play as well as we would have liked. We have to win every inning and that’s what we need to do tomorrow.”
CSUSB opened the bottom half of the third with two stellar defensive plays, as Alex Mitchell caught a line-drive from Katrin Gabriel at third base and Priscilla Curiel made a diving catch on a blooper to left by Mya Romero. However, UCSD center fielder Kris Lesovsky was hit by a pitch on the next play, putting a runner on first with two-down.
After Lesovsky took second base on a passed ball, Taylor Sepulveda chopped a ball to Mitchell for what looked like a routine ground out. However, first baseman Alyssa Flores couldn’t handle Mitchell’s throw, allowing the ball to scurry into right field. Lesovsky came around to score to make it 1-0 while Sepulveda took second.
Another error would grant the Tritons a second run, as CSUSB right fielder Jamie Leffingwell misplayed a deep fly ball from Sarah Woofter on the next play, allowing the ball to drop and Sepulveda to come around from second. Charly Swanberg picked up Woofter for the final run of the inning, sending a single through the left side while Woofter rounded third and scored to make it 3-0.
All three runs off Cassidy Lee (17-9) in the third inning were unearned.
UCSD nearly widened the gap in the fifth, as Lesovsky drew a one-out walk and eventually took second on an infield single to the pitcher by Sepulveda. Woofter moved the runners over with a fielder’s choice to the right side to put runners on second and third with two-down. But, Swanberg lined-out softly to shortstop Courtney Wilhelms to end the threat.
Stef Pace got the Coyotes on the board with a one-out solo homerun to left in the top of the sixth. Britney Butler then sent a hard-shot off Gaito’s thigh to reach base with two out, but Gaito settled down to strikeout Wilhelms and end the inning. She would let a runner aboard in the top of the seventh as well, but fanned Jaquelyn Holtzclaw to end the game.
“We need to score runs for Camille, but it was nice to finally have more than one run,” said Gerckens.
Saturday’s game one will start at noon on Saturday. If the Coyotes win, a second game will be played between the two squads to determine the champion of the West Region.