Feb. 12, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. - Freshman right-hander Dana Cruse surrendered just two hits in five-plus innings for her first collegiate win while sophomore shortstop Christa Castello collected two singles and drove in the game's only run, leading UC Davis to a 1-0 victory over Sacramento State in collegiate softball action at La Rue Field Wednesday afternoon.
The Aggies snap a five-game losing skid to improve to 2-5. The Hornets open their season at 0-1. Wednesday's game also marks the first of two softball meetings between the two Causeway Cup rivals, delivering 2.5 points to the UC Davis column. The teams will meet again on March 4 in Sacramento.
Cruse allowed two hits, walked three and fanned one in her second career start. Sophomore Leah Munden replaced Cruse after one batter in the sixth, firing two shutout innings for her first save of the year. For the Hornets, Caitlin Brooks went the distance, giving up three hits and walking six in six complete frames.
Castello had her hits in the first and sixth innings, and walked in another plate appearance, yet drove in the game's lone run on her only out. With the bases loaded with one out in the fourth, Castello grounded sharply to Hornet shortstop Yesenia Alcala. The Sac State senior looked toward home but decided not to attempt the force play at the plate, instead opting to retire Castello at first. Christina Guidry, who had entered as a pinch runner for Krista Bava two batters prior, crossed the plate without a challenge.
In contrast to that play, UC Davis showed a more aggressive style of infield defense, twice preventing Sac State from putting runners in scoring position. In the fifth inning, after Paige Castro reached on the Hornet's second single of the game, Castello went for a tougher force out at second rather than a relatively easier play at first. In the top of each of the second and seventh innings, throws by both Cruse and first baseman Amy Nunezfoiled Hornet sacrifice attempts.
"A lot of teams would throw to one there," said Aggie head coach Karen Yoder. "Both of those were close plays but I think our lead-runner philosophy came up with some crucial outs. That's something we've stressed. We have good, strong arms in the infield so we should be going for that lead runner."
Yoder also made a tactical move by relieving Cruse for Munden in the sixth, even though Munden had started Tuesday's home-opening loss against Pacific. "I'm pleasantly surprised by our pitching today," said the 10th-year UC Davis coach. "Leah came in with her relief role. We brought her in because two of the hitters she faced were 0-for-6 against her last year."
UC Davis threatened to add another run in the seventh when second baseman Chandler Wagnerslammed a double deeply down the left-field line. Castello followed with her second hit, and Wagner went for the insurance run. However, a fine throw from Hornet junior Alexa Chattleton combined with a swift tag by the catcher Solis resulted in an out at the plate.
The Aggies return to tournament action at UCLA's Stacy Winsburg Memorial Tournament this weekend. They open with Western Kentucky at 10 a.m. followed by the host Bruins at 3 p.m. on Friday.
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