May 9, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. – Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game of Friday’s Big West doubleheader against the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine, Christa Castello drove in Cat Guidry on her triple to the corner in right, then touched the dish herself when Kimberly Pena hit a rocket towards third that was deflected into foul territory to help the Aggies capture a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
That win, combined with UC Davis’ 5-1 triumph that took place earlier in the day, helped the Aggies win their final weekend series of the season and set up another possible season-ending home sweep.
Last season, the Aggies ended the 2013 campaign by defeating Cal Poly in all three games played at La Rue Field.
UC Davis will enter its 2014 season finale with a 21-32 overall and 9-11 Big West record; Hawai’i drops to 21-28 and 6-14 with the day’s results.
Seeking a split of the day’s action, Hawai’i broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh when Keiki Carlos smacked a single to center which allowed Kaile Nakao to score from second.
Returning to the plate after hitting a solo shot in the top of the fifth to know the score at two apiece, UC Davis took full advantage of an open first base and decided to intentionally walk Leisha Li’ili’i, the Rainbow Wahine’s cleanup batter.
With the bases loaded and two outs recorded, the Aggie battery of catcher Caitlin Voss and pitcher Leah Munden helped their team escape this dangerous situation by inducing an inning-ending groundout to Castello at short.
“Caitlin did a great job of setting up our team throughout the inning. She called for pitches and made the necessary adjustments to each batter,” said head coach Karen Yoder following the game. “Caitlin and Leah threw to the scouting reports, which was why Hawai’i left three runners on base.”
Entering the game as a reliever in the fifth inning, Munden struckout two batters to earn her third win.
Guidry started the inning with a hard-hit single down the left field line before advancing to second on a textbook sacrifice bunt that was dropped by her sister, Christina.
The moment the ball left Castello’s bat, C. Guidry had only one thing on her mind; scoring easily from second, she watched her teammate chug around the bases without breaking stride before beating the throw Carlos in right.
It was then when Yoder called on Kimberly Pena to enter the game on this crucial situation. On a 0-1 count, the senior delivered by hitting a lazer towards the hot corner.
Pena’s line drive was hit so hard towards Nakao, the Rainbow Wahine’s third baseman had little time to reach over and make a play on the ball. Had the ball not tipped off the lip of her glove and bounced into foul territory, Pena still would have recorded the game-winning hit, it would have landed in left field and enabled Castello to trot home. Instead, Nakao lunged from her spot a handful of feet away from the bag at third to make a play.
Unable to see the actual play, Castello slid back to the base once the ball left Pena’s bat to eliminate any potential of a double play. Instead, when she looked up after sliding and noticed the ball rolling into foul territory in shallow left, she heeded the instructions from her third base coach, everyone in the dugout, and all UC Davis fans in attendance and sprinted home.
“When I saw what took place at third, all I could yell was ‘run home, run home!’ Once I saw (Castello) turn around and run, I made sure I stepped on first base,” said Pena shortly after her teammates mobbed her on the diamond.
“The first pitch I saw was an off-speed pitch, I was looking for another one since I can hit that pitch well.
“I just felt that something good was going to happen when I walked to the plate. If Christa was not called out on batter’s interference earlier in the game, I would have pinch hit then. I was told to warm up a couple innings later, but was unable to bat since that inning ended before I could swing.”
“What a way to start the weekend,” said Pena alluding to Saturday’s season-ending game and the final one for herself and three of her teammates as a UC Davis student-athlete.
In the first game of the day, designated player Kelly Zboralske helped UC Davis score the last of its two runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a wire-to-wire Aggie victory.
Leading 2-1 before taking its swings in the bottom of the fourth, UC Davis capitalized on three Hawai’i errors to push another three Aggies across the plate.
In her five-inning outing, Cruse fanned a career-high eight batters and gave up only four hits. By preventing the Rainbow Wahine to score throughout her two-inning appearance, Reynolds picked up her league leading fourth save of the season.
“I’m proud of the way all three pitchers performed today. Hawai’i is a dangerous team that can score runs quickly. They can easily hit multiple extra-base hits in a row and are a dangerous team to face,” said Yoder.
“All four seniors contributed to this sweep today; besides Pena winning the game and Voss preventing Hawai’i from scoring with the bases loaded, Jessica Barrett came through at the plate with a single when she pinch hit and Wagner had another tremendous game.”
When asked about Saturday’s ceremony honoring her four graduating student-athletes, Yoder explained how bittersweet the final game of the year would be for her and her staff.
“Each graduating senior will have a successful next chapter of their life after graduating from UC Davis, there is no doubt about that. I am going to miss them as members of this program, and miss what each brings to the team.”
Prior to Saturday’s 12 p.m. season finale, UC Davis Softball will honor its four graduating seniors during a pregame ceremony. Fans are encouraged to arrive to La Rue Field early to secure their seats.
In addition to a live stats link, fans can listen to Joey Kistler call the final game of the 2014 on KDVS (90.3 FM) or online at ucdavisaggies.com.