UC Davis finishes third in Big West Conference

The exciting 2012 UC Davis softball campaign, which was highlighted by an upset over No. 8 Stanford as well as a lengthy battle for the conference championship, came to an end this weekend.

Although they were unable to achieve their dream of claiming a piece of the Big West regular season championship, the Aggies made it a season and weekend to remember with two strong victories against Cal State Fullerton.

Similar to the entire season, the final series of the year was an entire team effort as every starter recorded a hit or an RBI over the weekend.

On the mound, freshman Justine Vela, who started all three games, ended her extraordinary first season with two complete-game victories. With her strong weekend performances, Vela finished first in the Big West with the lowest conference ERA (0.95) and most strikeouts (272).

The Aggies finished with a final record of 24-28 and 14-7 in Big West Conference play. UC Davis came in just two games behind eventual Big West Champion Long Beach State and one game behind second-place Pacific.

Friday — UC Davis 5, CSU Fullerton 0
In a crucial game to keep UC Davis’ league title hopes alive, the Aggies came out strong in the series opener.

Vela performed well, allowing just two hits and striking out nine Titans.

“[Vela] is having good command of her pitches and is hitting her spots,” said head coach Karen Yoder. “She is mature beyond her freshman year of experience.”

The game was an exciting pitcher’s duel as each team managed just one hit through five innings.

UC Davis pulled away in the late innings however as RBIs by freshman, Cassandra Ginnis and seniors Kelly Harman and Rachel Miller gave the Aggies a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning before freshman Amy Nunez added a two-run homerun in the seventh to seal the game.

Friday — CSU Fullerton 9, UC Davis 1 (Five innings)
Needing a win to stay in the title race, the Aggies fell in the shortened game as two errors allowed the Titans to score eight unearned runs in their blowout victory.

After Megan Guzman singled to drive in fellow junior JJ Wagoner in the second inning, the game remained tied at one apiece through the top half of the fifth inning.

Unfortunately for UC Davis, a disastrous bottom of the fifth inning, marked by eight unearned Titan runs, ended the Aggies’ title dreams.

Saturday — UC Davis 5, Pacific 2
The Aggies ended their season on a high note by winning the rubber match of the year’s final series.

Seniors Kylie Fan and Heather Zimmerman combined to drive in three runs for UC Davis and three errors by the Titans allowed the Aggies to add two more in the close game.

The teams battled back and forth and traded the lead three times before Zimmerman’s sixth inning RBI single to drive in Fan gave the Aggies the lead for good. Harman would also score an insurance run in the final inning for UC Davis following a Fan single.

The win marked the end of the collegiate careers of seniors Fan, Miller, Zimmerman, Harman and Allison Smith.

DOUG BONHAM can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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