By Dean Boerner | Editor-in-Chief

Saint Mary’s softball came into last weekend’s action winners of four of their last five games after a rough start to their 2018 campaign. Three straight wins over CSU Bakersfield and one win over UC Davis gave the Gaels their first four wins of the season. However, this last weekend proved to be more trying for Jessica Rodgers’s club, who defeated Stony Brook on the Sunday of UC Riverside’s 2018 Highlander Classic after losing their first three games of the tournament.

In their first game of a Friday doubleheader, Saint Mary’s fell to Stony Brook 7-2 despite the best efforts of freshmen Kimiko Zapanta and Eileen Perez.

Stony Brook scored four runs in a decisive second inning. Saint Mary’s responded with two runs in the third when sophomores Jaymee Campbell and Hannah Chew each forced home runs with based-loaded walks, but the Gaels offense was held mostly dormant for the remainder of the game. Zapanta recorded three hits and a walk—in addition to two stolen bases—but Stony Brook would extend their lead back to four in the fifth inning and to five with a run in the seventh inning.

The second game of the doubleheader also proved to be a struggle for the Gaels. After a first-inning run, Saint Mary’s failed to score for the rest of the contest, allowing four late runs to host-school UC Riverside in a 4-1 loss to the Highlanders.

Although the Gaels lost their lone Saturday game to Brown, they gained some revenge over Stony Brook with a Sunday win.

Against Brown, the Gaels squandered seven hits, five stolen bases, and a very early, first-inning lead to the Bears, who responded with a two-run first and two-run fourth inning, ultimately winning 5-3. Zapanta and sophomore Eryn McCoy each had two-hit performances in the loss, with one of McCoy’s hits coming in the form of a game-tying homerun in the second inning. The Gaels would muster just one more run—to the Browns three—for the rest of the game, though.

Behind a very strong start from the freshman Eileen Perez, the Gaels bounced back later in the day with their equalizing 7-1 win over Stony Brook.

Freshman Julia McCormack started the scoring off with a double down the right-field line, scoring Zapanta from second. And the Gaels would score in similar fashion two innings later when McCormack singled through the left side, once again sending home Zapanta.

After another run in the fourth, the Gaels erased all doubt about the final result with a four-run sixth inning that helped lead to a 7-1 victory.

Kimiko Zapanta added three stolen bases to her season total, pulling herself to 18 on the season and keeping her amongst the leaders in the entire nation.

Saint Mary’s couldn’t quite continue their momentum into the fifth and final game of the 2018 Highlander Tournament, losing to host UC Riverside 11-0, but some competitive games against solid teams are encouraging signs for a team that has faced some struggles early this season. The Gaels have clearly adopted an altered offensive strategy, already surpassing their 2017 stolen base total less than halfway into this season.

This weekend, they travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico for five games as part of the Lobo Classic, a tournament hosted by the University of New Mexico Lobos.


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