The UCR softball team (36-22, 23-10) ended their season by participating in the second annual National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. This marks the first time UCR softball has made a Division I postseason appearance. The tournament featured eight teams that won 30 games or more throughout the regular season and six teams that finished in either first or second in their conference.
Riverside faced off against the University of Nevada, Reno (27-27, 12-12) in their first game of the regional tournament on Wednesday, May 16. The Highlanders were able to dominate in all facets of the game against Reno and earned a 10-0 win. Freshman pitcher Hailey Dolcini got the start for UCR and allowed only two hits in her five innings on the mound. Senior Tayler Misfeldt made a brief one-inning relief appearance to hold down the fort on the defensive end and close out the game. Junior infielder Brittney Garcia led the charge on offense for the Highlanders with two hits, one of which was a walk-off homerun, and four RBI. Sophomore infielder Emma Ramelot also contributed to the offensive explosion with two hits and three RBI.
UCR’s defense continued to dominate in the team’s second game of the tournament against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on Thursday, May 17. Misfeldt got the start in the matchup and had a brilliant performance. The all-time wins leader in program history pitched a complete game shutout while striking out seven hitters and only allowing four hits. Misfeldt was also able to get just enough support from her offense to earn the 2-0 win. Garcia was once again right in the middle of their offensive attack, tied for the team lead in RBI’s with one. The win allowed the Highlanders to advance to the championship round of the tournament.
Riverside played against UNLV (33-20, 13-11) for the second straight game in the championship round on Friday, May 18. This game was not as closely contested as their first meeting of the tournament, as UCR jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. UNLV would score a run in the fourth inning, but the Highlanders would tack on four more runs in the sixth to secure the 7-1 lead, and the regional tournament championship. Misfeldt took the mound for the second consecutive game and once again came up big for the Highlanders. The senior pitcher threw six strikeouts and only allowed one run in seven innings on her way to her 19th win of the year. The offensive contributions were very spread out throughout the lineup in this game as four players ended the game with multiple hits. Seniors Chelsey Holley and Jenae Lockwood led the team in RBI with two apiece.
Misfeldt was named the tournament MVP as Garcia, sophomore Emma Ramelot and Lockwood were named to the All-Tournament team. UCR will now advance to compete in the NISC Championship Round against Eastern Kentucky at Loyola Marymount on Wednesday, May 23.