Tritons win first game at NCAA championship

UCSD pitcher Camille Gaito in action last week. Gaito allowed only two hits in Thursday's win against C. W. Post. Photo Phil Dailey
UCSD pitcher Camille Gaito in action last week. Gaito allowed only two hits in Thursday's win against C. W. Post. Photo Phil Dailey

Jennifer De Fazio went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and Camille Gaito tossed a complete game two-hitter as the 16th-ranked UC San Diego softball team defeated No. 25 C.W. Post 7-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Championship Finals on Thursday afternoon at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex.

UCSD got yet another stellar performance from Gaito in the circle, while the Triton offense took advantage of seven C.W. Post errors en route to the team's sixth consecutive victory in NCAA Tournament play.

UCSD (42-13) advances to face the winner of Saginaw Valley State and Minnesota State-Mankato in the top half of Bracket 1 on Friday at 1:00 pm. PST, while CWP (41-15) will face the loser of that matchup in an elimination game on Saturday at 9:00 a.m.

Saginaw Valley and Minnesota State-Mankato were scheduled to take the field at 11:30 on Thursday.

"This was a great win and a great way to start us off," head coach Patti Gerckens said. "We started a bit slowly offensively, but we picked it up late and Jenn came through with some clutch hits for us. Camille was great out there again and I just can't say enough about her effort."

Making her seventh straight postseason start, Gaito (32-4) turned in one of the best outings of her career, limiting the Pioneers to just two hits en route to her ninth shutout of the season. She struck out eight and did not issue a walk, cruising to her 29th complete game of the year.

Gaito, who was named a NFCA Second Team All-American earlier in the week, did not allow a hit after the second inning and retired 15 of the final 16 batters in order.

"It really helped that [C.W. Post] hadn't seen me before," she said. "I wasn't really doing anything different and even some of my missed pitches worked out. I didn't have to change my game plan too much because I had the advantage."

In addition to earning the win in the first College World Series game in UC San Diego softball history, Gaito also became the program's all-time leader in pitching victories with her 62nd career win. And if that wasn't enough, she set the single season record with her 44th appearance of the year as well.

"Camille is a really good pitcher, that's all there is to it," Gerckens added. "She moves the ball extremely well, she's smart and she battles each and every day. We knew that we were going to get a tremendous performance from her and that's what she gave us today."

While Gaito was keeping the Pioneers guessing all afternoon, the UCSD offense had a coming out party of sorts as the Tritons scored seven runs for the first time since early April. UCSD, which had scored three runs or fewer in all five of its NCAA Tournament wins prior to Thursday, scored one run in each of the second and third innings before adding three in the fifth and two in the seventh.

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