Softball Opens Season With A Split At UCSB Early Bird Tournament
Feb. 1, 2002
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Playing with dirt under their cleats for the first time since October, the UIC softball team fared well as they went 1-1 in opening-day action of the 2002 UC-Santa Barbara Early Bird Tournament.
The Flames opened with a tough 3-1 loss at the hands of Loyola Marymount, but flexed their offensive muscle in a 10-3 triumph over New Mexico State in the nightcap.
"Today was a learning experience as far as how we want to play each and every game of the season," Co-Head Coach Sarah O'Malley-Fisher said at the end of the day. "We played two great teams today in Loyola Marymount and New Mexico State and we showed signs of how we want to play consistently every game.
"If we continue to focus, both offensively and defensively, we will continue to grow as a team, and we showed that today."
Versus the Lions, the score was knotted 1-1 in the top of the seventh, when LMU's Sami Strinz belted a two-run homer off reliever Rory Gonzales-Gould.
Gtonzales-Gould (0-1) entered at the start of the seventh for starter sophomore Alison Aguilar, who tossed six strong innings allowing just one run while striking out a career-high nine batters.
UIC tallied its lone run on an RBI single by senior Jennifer Tiffany (2-for-4) in the bottom of the fourth inning.
LMU's Corianne Rogalsky (1-0) picked up the win in the circle, tossing a complete game with four strikeouts.
Things seemed to be headed for disaster in the second game for the Flames as three New Mexico State hits and two UIC errors led to three runs in the top of the first for the Aggies off starter Alycia Creese.
The Flames, who return six batters who batted .300 or better last season, would begin to find their groove in the bottom of the frame. Tiffany, freshman Cameron Astiazaran and senior Edel Leyden all singled to open the frame, then sophomore Amanda Rivera quickly gave UIC the lead, belting a grand slam to left-center field.
Up 4-3 in the bottom of the second, the Flames began to pile it on New Mexico State starter Ryon Adams (0-1), plating five more runs with RBIs from Leyden, Sara Hernandez, Tiffany and Alycia Creese.
UIC capped its scoring in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Vaca.
Creese (1-0), a sophomore who tied the Flames rookie record last season with 24 wins, picked up her first victory of the season, going the distance with eight strikeouts.
The win over the Aggies was also the first for rookie co-head coaches O'Malley-Fisher and Tom Gray.
The UCSB Early Bird Tournament continues tomorrow with UIC taking on host UC-Santa Barbara at 11:00 a.m. CST, before trying to avenge its loss to Loyola Marymount at 3:00 p.m. CST.