Stockton, Calif. - Facing UC Riverside (UCR) as conference foes for the final time, the Pacific softball team downed the Highlanders, 6-4, behind a five-run first inning on Sunday, Mar. 24. The win earned the Tigers the series sweep of the Highlanders and improved their overall record to 18-16 while UCR fell to 15-18 on the year.
Playing behind for the third-straight game against the Highlanders, the Tigers used five runs in their first trip to the plate to do all the damage they would need to sweep away UCR and post their first perfect weekend of the year. Sending 10 to the plate in the first inning alone, the Tigers used four hits and three walks to come away with their five runs.
Pacific started the inning with back-to-back walks to get the ball rolling on its big inning as senior Megan Hom and junior Taylor Petty set the table for the heart of the Tigers' order. With the two Tigers in scoring position, senior Amy Moore cleared the bases with the first of two singles in the game to put Pacific on the board. With Moore on, senior Nikki Armagost countinued her recovery at the plate with a double to dead center to once again put a pair in scoring position for the second time in the inning.
Still trailing by one, freshman Nicole Zapotoczny ended the Highlanders' time on top with a deep single to left that plated Moore and tied the game at 3-3. After a walk to senior Megan Allen loaded the bases with two outs, freshman Taylor Brink did not let her opportunity go to waste as the young shortstop drilled a single back up the middle to complete the scoring for the Tigers and put her team on top, 5-3.
Pacific added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a one-out RBI double by Armagost after a leadoff single by junior Megan Foglesong. The double was Armagost's second of the game as the senior went 3-for-4.
The runs for the Tigers in the first became necessary after the Highlanders struck for three runs in the top of the first inning to put Pacific behind. Just as they had done all weekend, the Highlanders scored all three runs with two outs in the inning as UCR picked up back-to-back home runs from Kayla White and Ashley Ercolano to begin the scoring. They added a triple and a single for their third run of the inning, but got greedy trying to stretch the single into a double, a mistake that would end the inning and the rally.
Outside of the three-run first, the Highlanders threatened just one other time as UCR worked the bases loaded in the fourth with a pair of singles and a walk, but would be held to just one run that came on a Tiger error. Once again, the Highlanders helped kill their own rally in the inning as UCR got caught trying to squeeze in a run only to be picked off third for the second out of the inning.
In the circle, freshman Carly Mortensen (3-2) grabbed the win for the Tigers in relief as the freshman entered the game after the first inning. Mortensen finished the game for the Tigers in relief of starter Tori Shepard who lasted just one inning while giving up four hits and three runs. In relief, Mortensen went 6.0 innings while giving up six hits and one unearned run while striking out four and walking two.
UCR's starter, Taylor Alvarez (2-4), lasted just 0.1 innings as the Tigers ran her from the game early with two hits and four runs. In relief, Ercolano lasted just 0.2 innings while giving up two hits and one run while Sophie Slagle pitched the majority of the contest. Slagle threw 5.0 innings while giving up five hits and one run while walking four and striking out two. Slagle held the Tigers in check for most of the afternoon as Pacific stranded 10 including seven in scoring position.
The Tigers are back in action on Friday, Mar. 29 when they host UC Santa Barbara in Big West Conference action. The two teams will meet Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm for the first of two in a doubleheader at Bill Simoni Field.