Feb. 20, 2015
Highlanders 9 – Spartans 2
The women’s softball team rode high on the first day of the Amy S. Harrison Classic, taking both games of the Friday, Feb. 20 doubleheader to improve their record to 8-4. The first game saw the Highlanders hosting Big 10 member Michigan State, dismantling the visiting Spartans 9-2 in seven innings.
Freshman starting pitcher Chelsea Ponce picked up the win with a solid outing, allowing six hits and two runs in five innings. She also picked up five strikeouts and walked only two Michigan State batters. First baseman and reliever Rebecca Faulkner led the Highlander offense with three runs driven in, and Jenna Curtan crossed home plate three times.
UCR struck quickly with an early run in the bottom of the first, but an RBI double from Spartan Lea Foerster tied the game in the third, and a fifth-inning home run from Foerster gave Michigan State the lead. However, the Highlanders responded with an offensive barrage over the next two innings. In the bottom of the fifth, the Highlanders got RBI singles from Erika Campbell and Haley Harris to reclaim the lead.
The Highlanders put the game away in the sixth, kicked off by an RBI double from third baseman Taylor Wright that was stretched to a triple off of an error. This forced the Michigan State defense into multiple fielders’ choices, allowing baserunners to advance in exchange for preventing single runs. This soon backfired for the Spartans, as Faulkner crushed a three-run home run to put the game away for the Highlanders. The homer was the freshman’s first for the blue and gold. Faulkner also pitched the last two innings of the game, picking up her third save this year.
Highlanders 7 – Aggies 6
Following a brief 30-minute intermission, the team returned to action in its final game of the day and took down Utah State 7-6 in nine heated innings.
Taking the mound to start the game for the Highlanders was Tayler Misfeldt, who gave up three hits and struck out three in her 2.2 innings of work.
Despite being in the midst of a disappointing season, it was Utah State who struck first, jumping to a 3-0 lead with a string of well-hit balls. However, the Highlanders quickly responded with three runs of their own the following inning, off an RBI double from Rebecca Faulkner and a base hit from Kris DeAnda that drove in two. Middle reliever Alyssa Razo proceeded to shut down the Utah State offense, allowing no runs and only four hits over the next 3.1 innings.
The 3-3 stalemate lasted until the top of the eighth inning, when Utah State center fielder Sara Vasquez drove in a run on a base hit off of Chelsea Ponce, who had already pitched earlier in the day. Ponce had come in to replace Razo who, despite cruising through the previous three innings, was forced out after being hit with a line drive in the chest. Continuing the dramatic pace of the game, UCR promptly struck back with catcher Chelsea Holly’s sacrifice fly driving in Nicolette Lujan to keep the Highlanders alive and push the game to another extra inning. Yet again, Utah State drove in another run to put the game in the Highlanders’ hands.
After Stephanie Tickemyer made it to second base, Taylor Wright moved Tickemyer to third on a sacrifice bunt, who scored on a single up the middle by Jenna Curtan. Curtan then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. With Curtan on third and Karina Romero reaching on a single to first base, right fielder Sommer Wilson, who had come into the game in the seventh, hit a walkoff single to right field that sent the Highlanders home happy.
Chelsea Ponce ended up picking up both wins on the day, moving her season record to 7-2 with a microscopic 0.87 ERA. The two RBIs from Kris DeAnda marked her second multi-RBI game of the season for the Highlanders, who remain undefeated at home on the season.
Feb. 21, 2015
Highlanders 5 – Aggies 4
In the second day of hosting the Amy S. Harrison Classic, the women’s softball team extended their winning streak to three with another hotly contested affair, ending with an eight inning, 5-4 win over Utah State. The game was the second straight extra-inning contest for the Highlanders, who escaped both games with one-run margins.
Freshman Kaylynn Pierce started the game for the Highlanders, striking out two and allowing three hits over 4.1 innings. On the other side, Utah State pitcher Noelle Johnson showed why she was the only pitcher on the team to have recorded a win, shutting out the UCR offense and only allowing three hits over her first five innings.
The Aggies built a gradual but noticeable lead off third and fifth inning RBIs by first baseman Hailey Froton, and an RBI triple in the fifth by Sarah Chow that set the pieces in place for Froton. However, just as in the previous meeting the day prior, the Highlander offense responded, and responded quickly.
Victoria Sanchez got the Highlanders on the board with a sacrifice fly to center that started a three-inning span that had the Highlanders scoring five runs, including a game-tying three-run home run in the sixth inning by center fielder Jenna Curtan that drove in Taylor Wright and Madeline Richard to send the game to extra innings. The home run was Curtan’s first of the season in a decisive moment the completely shifted the game’s momentum.
The shellshocked Utah State team simply could not recover, and the game ended the following inning. With Haley Harris on second, Natalie Sanchez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Harris to third. On the very next pitch, Harris scored the game-winning run on a passed ball. Pitcher Chelsea Ponce picked up her eighth win of the season in 10 decisions, and maintained a miniscule 0.83 ERA.
Feb. 22, 2015
Highlanders 7 – Toreros 6
Highlanders 10 – Toreros 2
The Highlanders won their fourth and fifth consecutive games of the weekend with 7-6 and 10-2 thumpings of San Diego University on an overcast Sunday afternoon.
After escaping the first contest with an eighth-inning unearned run, UC Riverside cruised to a dominant hitting-filled game against the Toreros. The team outhit their opponents 10-2. Pitchers Rebecca Faulkner and Tayler Misfeldt earned wins on the day.
The Highlanders are now 11-4 and perfect at home on the season, their best start since the 2006 season when they won 10 of their first 13 games.
UCR remains at home to face St. John’s University on Wednesday, Feb. 25.