If the UC Davis softball team can just figure out a way to skip the second inning of its games, this could be a banner season for the Aggies.
However, those innings still count and — thanks to a seven-run second — Pacific managed an 8-5 victory Tuesday, spoiling UCD’s home opener at LaRue Field.
In the past three outings, the Aggies (1-5) have coughed up 24 runs in the second frame.
“We can’t let an inning like that get away from us,” UCD coach Karen Yoder told The Enterprise. “It’s hard to come back when they put up a seven spot.”
Nonetheless, thanks to often-brilliant relief pitching by freshman Andrea Reynolds, the locals did scramble back into contention, but the hole was too deep.
A scoreless first inning was followed by an offensive explosion that saw the two teams combine for 11 second-inning runs.
First, the Tigers (1-0) chased UCD starter Leah Munden with a seven-hit barrage that put six earned runs in the sophomore from Bakersfield’s ledger.
With the bases loaded, nobody out and three runs already in, Reynolds took the circle and struggled initially. A couple of hits, a walk and a sacrifice meant four more Pacific tallies — but after that the righty from San Luis Obispo found a groove.
From there, Reynolds allowed only four more hits and fanned four. The Tigers scored but once in the final five frames.
“Reynolds came in in a tough situation and challenged,” Yoder said. “I know, as a freshman, nerves might have been (in play) as far as hitting spots initially — but I thought she settled down well and put us in a position to offensively come back and battle for that game.”
The fire extinguished, the Aggies roared back in their half of the fateful inning.
With one out, Amy Nunez walked, Kimberly Pena singled and a walk to Krista Bava loaded the bases.
Jasmine Lee lined an RBI hit to center and Chandler Wagner smacked a hard shot off Pacific pitcher Dani Bonnet’s glove. The ball limped into short left-center, plating Pena and Bava.
Lee got thrown out in a rundown at third, protecting the home-sliding Bava on the relay.
Lead-off lefty Christa Castello’s infield hit brought in Wagner and suddenly the Aggies were back in it.
When Jessica Barrett worked a walk off Bonnet to put two on with two out, Carly Mortensen relieved for Pacific. UCD slugger Lauryn Saunders was immediately hit by a pitch, but Mortensen ended the uprising on Kelly Zboralske’s deep fly to center.
The Aggie rally had cut the lead to 7-4.
A two-out triple by Megan Fogelson and wild pitch by Reynolds gave the Tigers their final run in the third. UCD scored one more in the fifth frame when Saunders doubled and pinch runner Brianna Warner came home all the way from second on Zboralske’s sacrifice fly to right.
“Allowing seven runs in the second inning is difficult,” Yoder said. “I thought we battled hard. We’ve just got to do a better job of containing (those kinds of rallies) … not letting that situation get out of hand.”
Weather permitting, UCD is set to entertain Sacramento State at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Pena led the six-hit Aggie attack with two, while among 13 Pacific safeties were two each by outfielders Gabby Goyette and Taylor Petty and two from third baseman Cassidy Gustafson.
But it was the homecoming appearance of former Davis High shortstop Melanie Habib that paced the Tiger offense. Batting ninth, the sophomore went 3-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI and four assists afield.
How was it being back in town?
“It means a lot. Nice to see the hometown support,” Habib said. “I’m feeling at home in these parts because I’d been playing here for 10 years. Yeah, it definitely feels like home.”
Notes: In a 17-1 loss to No. 18 Baylor in Las Vegas over the weekend, the Aggies yielded six, second-inning runs. In a 16-2 to No. 3 Washington on Sunday, a second-inning hairball cost UCD 11 runs. … The locals travel to the Stacy Winsburg Memorial Tournament in Los Angeles to meet Western Kentucky and No. 13 UCLA on Friday, then the Hilltoppers again Saturday (along with Robert Morris) before a Sunday rematch with the Bruins. UCD then hosts No. 14 Stanford on Feb. 18 (1:30 p.m.). …With the loss, left-hander Munden is 0-3. Pena’s 2-for-3 outing raised her average to .500 while Saunders went 1-for-3 and is hitting .400 with two homers, the triple and two doubles. … Junior hurler Justine Vela, who went 15-10 with a 2.03 ERA in 2013, suffered an arm injury in the Aggies’ opening-day win over Arkansas. She hasn’t pitched since and Yoder says she’s being evaluated “and we hope to have her back soon.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.