After a lengthy 13 innings and an incredible shot down center field by Selina Rodriguez, the Gator softball team earned themselves a split with No. 15 UC San Diego winning 2-1 in the second game after a defeat earlier by the Tritons of 8-2.
SF State Gator, Jennifer Lewis, slide safely to base before UC San Diego’s first baseman, Caitlin Brown tags her during a game against the Tritons on Saturday, April 12. Photo by Lorisa Salvatin / Xpress
SF State hosted their annual Strike Out Cancer Day, and preceded the games with ceremonial first pitch by head coach Cristina Byrne’s mother.
Betty Gerkins, breast cancer survivor and mother of UC San Diego softball coach, Patty Gerkins, throws one of the first pitches of the game between SF State Gators and UC San Diego Tritons on Saturday April 12. Photo by Lorisa Salvatin / Xpress
“The first game was a tough one,” said head coach Cristina Byrnes. “We came out a little bit flat, to be honest, and we made errors early that gave them a heavy lead into things.”
Lax defense and meager offense by the Gators in game one, the Tritons were able to take the lead early on, scoring three runs in the first inning and four in second. They scored their eighth and final run in the seventh inning, while the Gators’ offense finished out with only two runs out of their seven hits.
SF State Gator’s Courtney Gravel, tags UC San Diego Triton, Callie Grant as she slides to second base during the game on the SF State softball field on Saturday, April 12. Photo by Lorisa Salvatin / Xpress
“We were losing early on so it was hard to come back,” said second baseman Kelsey Murakami. “It’s hard to bring the energy level back up when you’re down by a lot.”
After the disappointment of the first game, the Gators came back strong in the second for a 2-1 win.
“We were definitely more alive during the second game,” said third baseman Rodriguez. “It’s harder to come back when you are down by a lot, but the second game we were only down by one, we knew we had a shot at winning.”
Starting pitcher Megan Clark threw all 13 innings with a total of 168 pitches, 118 of them for strikes, while acting as the backbone of the team by improving the Gators’ energy on the field.
(From left) SF State Gator Jen Lewis, breast cancer survivor Lynn Versco, SF State head softball coach Cristina Byrne, breast canser survivor and mother of Cristina, Sylvia Byrne, breast cancer survivor and mother of UC San Diego head coach Betty Gerkins, and UC San Diego head coach Patty Gerkins pose for a photo during a game celebrating Strikeout Cancer day, a day recognizing breast cancer survivors Saturday, April 12. Photo by Lorisa Salvatin / Xpress
“She (Clark) was going to stay out there as many innings as the game went,” said Byrnes. “She really set the tone of our pitching and finally pushed that second run across.”
The Tritons scored a run early in the game during the first inning and held the lead until Chelsea Brent tied it up in the bottom of the sixth inning with a perfectly executed hit-and-run after Rodriguez doubled to center.
The score remained tied up for the next seven innings until Rodriguez delivered again, driving in Aryn Guzman in the bottom of the 13th on a single to center.
The Gators record now stands at 7-20 on the season and will travel to Cal State San Bernardino April 18 for a weekend series.