April 6, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Stellar pitching from both UC Davis starting pitchers and early leads earned in both of Saturday's softball games against Cal State Northridge helped the Aggies capture a sweep of the day's Big West action by respective scores of 5-2 and 5-0.
With the wins, UC Davis improves to 15-17 overall and 2-3 in league play while CSUN falls to 14-23 and 0-5.
UC Davis has now won the last six straight head-to-head meetings against the Matadors.
The Aggies can earn their first conference sweep of the season with another victory against the Matadors in Sunday's 12 p.m. series finale.
That game will also provide a chance for fans of both squads to support Team Sammie and its annual Bunny Drive by donating a stuffed animal with tags at the entrance of the facility.
Sammie Hartsfield bravely battled Osteosarcoma for nearly 3 years; created by Sammie when she noticed that the hospitals ran out of comforting stuffed friends after the holiday rush of donations from other organizations, Sammie's Annual Bunny Drive is intended to bring a smile to children, like herself, hospitalized during the spring in the form of a cuddly stuffed animal friend.
Throughout Saturday's doubleheader, UC Davis was anything but cuddly and comforting to a Matador lineup that struggled to match the batting and pitching prowess of an Aggie team that scored first and lead from start-to-finish in each contest.
In the day's opening game, Christa Castello helped the Aggies jump out to a 2-0 lead when she drilled a double to left field, one of two recorded by UC Davis, scoring Jasmine Lee and Kayla Tyler on the play.
Lee earned her team's inaugural hit by singling to first base, Tyler reached base by drawing a five-pitch walk.
After facing only four batters, Northridge head coach Tairia Flowers pulled starter Crystal Maas and turned to right fielder Mia Pagano for additional assistance, a decision that was a stopgap for the time being.
A solo home run from Tanna Bindi put the Matadors on the board for the first time in the game, a shot that cut UC Davis' lead in half until the Aggies responded in their half of the inning.
Bindi's run also snapped a two-year CSUN scoring drought against UC Davis; April 3, 2011, was the last time a Matador scored against the Aggies.
Responsible for the Aggies' other double recorded in Gm. 1, Chandler Wagner allowed Castello and JJ Wagoner to trot home when her shot to left field landed in an empty patch of grass, pushing her team's lead to 4-1 in the process.
A three-run cushion was more than enough for Justine Vela to work with as the right-hander threw all seven innings for UC Davis, allowed only four hits and two runs en route to her ninth, and the Aggies' first Big West win of the year.
Vela also struckout seven and did not issue a walk.
The events that took place in Gm. 2 followed a similar formula that took place in Gm. 1; UC Davis took an early lead, its starting pitcher frustrated Northridge throughout all seven innings, Aggie field players turned in numerous highlight-quality plays on defense in a game that ended with the home team scoring five runs to post another win.
It was Tyler who provided the first element of UC Davis' successful formula when she belted a solo shot over the fence in left to give her team a 1-0 advantage.
Once the ball left Tyler's bat, everyone at La Rue knew where that ball would eventually land; the home run was the second of her career and first of the season.
Playing with a lead, albeit a smaller one than her teammate possessed in the previous game, UC Davis starter Jessica Thweatt pitched a game that was equally as impressive throughout her time in the circle.
Until the Aggies provided Thweatt a larger lead with after the chain of events that took place in the bottom of the fifth inning, the senior right-hander allowed only four hits to her opponents and threw with a level of confidence that suggested that her team was leading by double digits.
As was the case in the previous game, Thweatt pitched all seven innings, struckout seven Matadors and did not allow a walk.
In addition to securing her second win of the season, Thweatt's clean sheet was her first shutout since April 6, 2012, when her team captured an extra-inning 2-0 triumph against... Cal State Northridge.
"I thought Justine (Vela) and (Jessica) Thweatt threw great games and did a solid job mastering the strike zone," said head coach Karen Yoder following the game.
Added Yoder regarding Thweatt's performance,"I thought she did a great job throwing to the scouting reports and hitting her spots. When youa re able to hit your spots and force the hitters to adjust, things will end in your favor a majority of the time."
Combined, UC Davis starting pitchers earned one-third of the day's outs via strikeout.
In the bottom of the fifth, Castello drove in the first of four UC Davis runs with a single to centerfield that allowed Megan Guzman to complete her trip around the bases that originally began on a single to second base.
With two outs and the bases full of Aggies, Caitlin Voss put the game out of reach with one swing of the bat - a play that started with a single to right field.
Following Tyler, the first to score on the play after initially reaching on a walk, the pair cheered Castello as she rounded third and headed home after a throw from Maas in right field sailed high and wide of her intended target at home plate and rolled towards the backstop.
"We've been looking for that special Aggie who can come off the bench and provide that clutch play. I thought she (Voss) stepped up in a huge situation to help us score three runs."
Once Castello realized that Mass' throw was off-line, she wisely made the decision to head home, easily scoring the final UC Davis run of the day.
Both teams will return to La Rue Field to complete the weekend series, a game that KDVS will broadcast live. Fans who are unable to attend can listen to all the action on 90.3 FM or online at ucdavisaggies.com.