Stellar pitching and early leads led to a UC Davis sweep — 5-2, 5-0 — of Cal State Northridge in Big West softball action Saturday at La Rue Field.
The Aggies (15-17 overall, 2-3 BWC) have now won the last six straight head-to-head meetings against the Matadors (14-23, 0-5).
UCD will try for its first conference sweep of the season with another win against Northridge in Sunday’s noon series finale.
In the opener, Christa Castello helped the Aggies jump out to a 2-0 lead when she drilled a double to left field, one of two recorded by UCD, scoring Jasmine Lee and Kayla Tyler on the play.
After Northridge starter Crystal Maas faced only four batters, head coach Tairia Flowers pulled her and turned to right fielder Mia Pagano for additional assistance, a decision that was a stopgap for the time being.
UCD’s Chandler Wagner lined a double that plated Castello and JJ Wagoner, pushing her team’s lead to 4-1 in the process.
A three-run cushion was more than enough for Aggie hurler Justine Vela. The right-hander threw all seven innings for UCD, allowing only four hits and two runs en route to her ninth win of the year. Vela also struck out seven and did not issue a walk.
In the second game, Aggie hurler Jessica Thweatt threw a complete game, striking out seven and walking none.
The Aggies were working hard through their third spring football practice on Saturday morning at Aggie Stadium when UC Davis head coach Ron Gould introduced NFL running back Jahvid Best to speak to them at its conclusion.
Best, who starred at Cal when Gould was running backs and associate head coach, is now a member of the Detroit Lions. He related a story from his days with the Bears when Gould called him into his office. Best joked he thought he might’ve done something wrong, but instead, Gould gave him a challenge.
“He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘I’m going to push you and I’m going to test you every day, no matter what. You can either embrace that or you can fight it,’ ” Best told the Aggies.
Best said he decided to embrace the challenge and it resulted in a prolific Cal career that featured 2,668 rushing yards, 35 touchdowns, a trio of All-Pac-10 selections from 2007 to 2009 and a first-round NFL selection by the Lions in 2010.
He was joined at the Aggies’ practice on Saturday by former Cal fullback Eric Stevens, who is preparing for his own NFL career in the coming months. Stevens is another protégé of Gould’s from his days with Cal.
UCD men’s golf
Tyler Raber’s 2-under 69 and Jonny Baxter’s 70 sparked a strong UC Davis effort on Saturday as the Aggie men’s golf team shot 2-under 282 to move into a tie for eighth after the second round of the ASU Thunderbird Invitational at Arizona State.
Baxter’s second straight impressive round kept him in a tie for sixth place at 3 under in the 100-player field while Raber climbed 25 spots into a tie for 35th at 2 over. The Aggies’ three other players competing this weekend either equaled or bettered their first-round scores.
The Aggies are tied for eighth with Iowa State and New Mexico State at 7-over 575 and are only one shot behind seventh-place Arizona.
UCD men’s tennis
Toki Sherbakov and Brett Bacharach each claimed singles victories but the UC Davis men’s tennis team dropped a Big West Conference match, 5-2, to Hawaii on Saturday afternoon at the Marya Welch Tennis Center.
The Aggies (6-9, 0-2 Big West) lost to the second-place Rainbow Warriors (6-12, 3-1) but kept it tight early.
All three doubles matches were decided by three points or less, with George Horowitz and Bacharach winning, 9-7, at No. 3 doubles. Sherbakov and Adam Levie lost 8-6 at No. 1 while Kyle Miller and Adam Luba fell 8-5 at No. 2.
Bacharach’s doubles win provided momentum, which he carried over into a 6-4, 7-6 victory at No. 4 singles. Sherbakov shook off a tough doubles loss to win 7-5, 7-5 over Jared Spiker at No. 1 singles.
UCD women’s tennis
Ellie Edles posted the only team point for the Aggies against No. 43 Long Beach State, the ninth nationally ranked team the Aggies have faced this season, falling to the 49ers 6-1 Friday at the Marya Welch Tennis Center in the first of six straight home matches.
In her singles match at UCD’s No. 5, Edles easily dispatched Long Beach State’s Karollina Rozenberg 6-4, 6-2 in the day’s penultimate match to earn the Aggies’ only team point.
With the win, Edles extended her singles win streak to four matches, a string of success that commenced at Cal State Fullerton last March.
UCD water polo
Senior attackers Kathryn Bailey, Jessica Dunn and Carmen Eggert each scored hat tricks to help No. 18 UC Davis battle from a seven-goal deficit to a two-goal margin late in the fourth period, but No. 8 Hawaii avoided the upset in a 14-12 decision over its host in Big West Conference women’s water polo action Friday evening at Schaal Aquatics Center.
The Aggies slip to 12-15 overall and remain winless in league play at 0-6. The Wahine improve to 14-9 for the year, 4-1 in Big West matches.
Bailey scored all three of her goals in the third quarter, while Dunn and Eggert each put away two of their three goals in UCD’s fourth-quarter comeback. The Aggies trailed by as much as 12-5 halfway through the third quarter. Erin Schlueter, Paige Oreglia and Hannah Curran each scored once for the Aggies, while sophomore Jillian Wilding provided four saves in her second-half relief of starter Riane Woods.