Underclassmen key in softball split series

The Seawolves’ softball team had a four-game series against the 11th nationally ranked team in the country this weekend. They played the Tritons of UC San Diego, twice on Friday and twice on Saturday. The expectation level for the veteran leaders of any team rises tremendously against dominant teams like the Tritons. But this weekend, a pair of Seawolf underclassmen helped Sonoma State take two out of four against UC San Diego.  

The Seawolves’ two best contributors split up their efforts, one on offense and one on defense. Freshman Ashley Long led the team in multiple hitting categories this weekend and played well in the field. Sophomore pitching ace Amanda Llerena had a great weekend, throwing over 17 innings while giving up only four earned runs. 

Llerena was the losing pitcher in the first game of this series. The Tritons scored three runs, all unearned, while the Seawolves only had three hits. Sonoma State lost that game by the score of 3-1. Besides Llerena, freshman Leanna Georges was the shining star in the offense, breaking up a no-hitter with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

To avoid falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Seawolves offense came alive in the second game on Friday. Long led the team, going three-for-three with two runs-batted-in and one run scored, and two doubles. The catcher, Keisi Chinen, also had three hits. They combined for six out of 10 Seawolf hits in the game, propelling them to a 6-1 victory.

“I felt confident at the plate. I felt control in my at-bats,” said Long. “I’m just confident in my play, and I just know I can get the job done.”

Day two of this series saw the Seawolves starting right where they left off at Friday’s end. Long had another two hits while Llerena pitched relaxed and confident. The difference in Saturday’s first game was the run support given to Llerena from the Seawolves’ offense. After only scoring one run in her start on Friday, they put up seven runs on Saturday. 

 “Knowing that they have a lot of confidence offensively carries on to the field and it definitely puts me in a really good mood, and sets good strengths for the rest of the game,” said Llerena.

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the third, the Seawolves exploded for six runs in the bottom of the inning, going ahead 6-1. When a team’s offense, defense, and pitching are all clicking on the same day, that usually means success and another Seawolf win. The third of four games ended with a 7-4 score in favor of SSU, and secured at least a split of the series with the Tritons.

The series finale on Saturday was a low-scoring affair, seeing only three earned runs in total. A Seawolf error gave the Tritons a little rally in the fourth inning. They took a 3-0 lead and extended that lead with another run in the fifth inning. The Seawolves got on the board with a solo homerun by Megan Konieczka in the last of the sixth inning, but that would end the weekend scoring as a whole. UC San Diego won game four, 4-1, but gave the Seawolves plenty of momentum for the rest of the season, knowing they can beat one of the best teams in the country.

“I think we finally competed at a high level, and consistently competed at a high level,” said Head Coach Jennifer Bridges. “I think it was good for the team to see we have the capability of that.”

Sonoma State next plays in Carson,  against Cal State Dominguez Hills. They will play two doubleheaders, one on Friday beginning at 1 p.m. and Saturday starting at 11 a.m. For more information go to www.sonomaseawolves.com.