DAVIS, Calif. -- The UC Davis softball team rallied for six runs in the sixth inning of a 12-4 run-rule win over UTEP to start the day, then walked off with a 3-2 victory in the ninth over San Diego State in the finale, wrapping up the Aggies' stay at the 2018 Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday.
The wins gave UC Davis a winning record in its first weekend of the season, improving to 3-2 overall on the year. The Miners fell to 1-3 with the loss, while the Aztecs -- who were receiving votes in the preseason NFCA coaches poll -- fell to 1-5 overall.
Junior Meghan Bradbury and sophomore Isabella Leon each finished with three hits on the day -- two of 11 players who got their name into the hit column on Sunday -- while the defense limited UTEP and San Diego State to a combined .193 (11-for-57) average over the two games.
Following a Valentine's Day battle in Berkeley against California, which is receiving votes in both the NFCA and USA Softball preseason polls, UC Davis returns to the road for its second tournament of the regular season, heading down Highway 99 to compete at the Bulldog Classic hosted by Fresno State on Feb. 16-18 at Bulldog Diamond.
The Aggies open on Friday (Feb. 16) against Pacific at 12:30 p.m. and the Bulldogs at 6 p.m., followed by Saturday games against CSU Bakersfield and Saint Mary's at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. UC Davis closes the tournament with a rematch against the Tigers on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
GAME 1: UC DAVIS 12, UTEP 4 (6 INN.)
Trailing by a run following a four-run UTEP fifth that erased an early 3-0 advantage, the UC Davis offense exploded for nine runs in the top of the sixth, and the Aggies shut the door for their first run-rule victory of the season, 12-4, over the Miners.
UC Davis sent 14 batters to the plate in the decisive sixth inning, scoring nine runs on nine hits with the big blast coming off the bat of sophomore cognitive science major Isabella Leon, who launched a grand slam to right field on the first pitch she saw for her second hit of the inning.
Junior human development major Meghan Bradbury added an RBI single earlier in the frame to get the scoring started, sophomore international relations major Marissa Jauregui had a sacrifice fly for the eventual game-winner, sophomore psychology major Alexis Villalobos added an infield RBI single with the bases loaded, freshman neurobiology, physiology, and behavior major Aly Gomonet followed with a bases-loaded walk, and freshman human development major Alyse Rojas poked an RBI single through the left side before Leon's home run.
Fresh off her first career start on Saturday against nationally ranked Tennessee, sophomore right-hander Frankie Mendoza (1-1) picked up her first win of the season in relief of starter Katie Kibby, tossing two hitless shutout innings and striking out one just a day after finishing with 4.2 shutout innings to finish the game against the Volunteers. Kibby allowed just two earned on four hits over four innings, striking out one, but took the no decision.
Gomonet got the Aggies on the board first after leading off the game with a walk, and stealing both second and third before racing home when a throw down to second caught Leon attempting to steal for the 1-0 advantage. UC Davis made it 3-0 in the second on a pair of RBI singles by sophomore human development major Marisa Given and Villalobos, and held that advantage until the fifth when UTEP took the lead with the help of a pair of errors, using an RBI single by Courtney Clayton and a three-run home run by Cortney Smith to go ahead, 4-3.
The set the stage for UC Davis' big inning as the Aggies reached double digits in the run column, and posted their first run-rule win, for the first time since a, 10-1, five-inning victory over Princeton on March 19, 2017.
Leon finished the day 3-for-3 with two runs scored and the four RBI, while Bradbury also added three hits. Given and Villalobos each finished 2-for-3 with a combined three runs scored and three RBI as eight of the nine starters in the lineup scored at least one run and seven drove in at least one.
Devyn Cretz (0-2) suffered the loss in relief for the Miners, charged with seven earned runs on seven hits in one inning of work. Julia Wright started and was tagged for five runs on seven hits, striking out one over five innings.
GAME 2: UC DAVIS 3, (RV) SAN DIEGO STATE 2 (9 INN.)
Freshman Brooke Yanez's fly ball to center field with no outs and runners on the corners in the ninth scored classmate Riley Siegel with the winning run, as the Aggies defeated San Diego State, 3-2.
Placed on second base via the international tiebreaker, Siegel moved up 60 feet when Maddie Rojas reached on a fielder's choice as the throw to try and cut down the runner at third was too late. With runners at the corners and no outs, Yanez stepped in and fell behind in the count 0-2 before lofting a ball to center that was caught cleanly, but the throw to the plate was late, allowing Siegel to cross with the winning run.
A ground-rule RBI double off the bat of Alyse Rojas scored Aly Gomonet, who also doubled, for the 1-0 lead in the first and a throwing error on a ground ball that would have ended the inning allowed Rojas to score three batters later for a 2-0 advantage.
San Diego State, which was receiving votes in the preseason poll after leading the nation in batting average in 2017, was shutout until the fourth, when the Aztecs tied the game on a two-run home run by Taylor Stewart after an error earlier in the frame prolonged the inning.
Both teams then settled in for the long haul as Yanez (2-0) and Alex Formby (0-3) matched one another zero-for-zero over the next five innings, setting the stage for the Aggies winning rally in the ninth after working out of a jam in the top half of the inning. Sotomayor cut down a runner trying to score from third and UC Davis stranded the bases loaded after a single and a walk with a ground ball to short.
Yanez, who struck out 11 in her complete-game collegiate debut against South Dakota on Friday, again went the distance on Sunday, allowing a pair of unearned runs on seven hits and striking out 10.
Formby, who entered in relief of starter Marissa Moreno in the fourth, allowing an unearned run on a hit, striking out three over 5.1 innings of work.
SAAC COIN DRIVE
Support the UC Davis Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Yolo County SPCA during the month of February as the Aggies hold their 11th annual coin drive at all home events. For the fourth year in a row, Big West Conference institutions will donate 100 percent of the funds raised to their designated charities, with the top three fundraising SAAC's receiving a cash prize toward their SAAC budget. Over the last 10 years, conference members have combined to raise nearly $197,000.
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.