SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Freshman shortstop Celina Lafrades (above) cracked her first collegiate home run during the opening game of a Friday afternoon doubleheader against UC Riverside and the Cal Poly softball program scratched out a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh before scoring four times during the ninth to claim a 6-5 triumph at Bob Janssen Field. The Mustangs, however, dropped the nightcap decision, 6-3.
During Friday's opening contest, left fielder Ariel Shore singled to lead off the game for the Highlanders (24-28, 7-13) before second baseman Brittany Keeney handed UC Riverside a quick 2-0 lead by launching a homer over the scoreboard in left field.
Lafrades had produced just four extra-base hits in 2012 before helping Cal Poly halve its lead by driving a solo homer to left center field with one out in the second.
Trailing 2-1 into the middle innings, Cal Poly kept UC Riverside at bay by turning doubles plays during the third and fifth. The Highlander offense was then stunted during the sixth as Mustang sophomore right fielder Cami Brown threw out Keeney at home to end the inning.
The Mustangs collected just three hits following the homer from Lafrades and advanced just one baserunner past second until equalizing during the bottom of the seventh. Lafrades kickstarted the rally by drawing a full-count, leadoff walk before reaching second base through a sacrifice bunt from junior designated player Shea Williams. Two batters later and with two down, Cal Poly sophomore second baseman Ashley Romano popped a ball down the right field line that was dropped by UC Riverside first baseman Jojo Mendoza. Lafrades scored from second on the miscue to send the game into extra innings.
Each side produced a hit during the eighth before the Highlanders, keyed by a run-scoring base hit from Keeney and a two-run single from center fielder Kayla White, grabbed a 5-2 lead in the top of the ninth.
Far from being outclassed, Cal Poly loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth and began chipping away against Highlander starting righthander Jordyn McDonald (10-14) and UC Riverside's 5-2 lead. Junior Whitley Gerhart struck the opening blow with a single into center field that plated sophomore first baseman Madi Vogelsang. With the bases still jammed, senior left fielder Nora Sobczak and sophomore right fielder Jillian Andersen drew successive one-out walks to tie the matchup. The next Mustang, sophomore third baseman Kim Westlund, then drilled the game-winning strike with a sacrifice fly that brought home Gerhart.
Mustang freshman lefthander Chloe Wurst (5-15) earned the victory after tossing the final one and one-third innings.
Cal Poly returned in the second game and jumped on UC Riverside starting righthander Taylor Alvarez (4-3) during the bottom of the first as Gerhart singled home Andersen and Sobczak for a 2-0 advantage.
Held to just a solitary hit by Mustang starting righthander Jordan Yates (3-14) during the opening two innings, UC Riverside struck back during the third with Keeney doubling home Shore and shortstop Yesena Duenas to deadlock the scoreline. Later in the inning, right fielder Dionne Anderson doubled UC Riverside's total and placed the Highlanders in the lead with a two-run single.
The Mustangs halved their deficit during the third through a one-out single from Williams that scored Lafrades. UC Riverside, however, took the run back during the top half of the fifth as Anderson doubled to right field to plate Vasser for a 5-3 lead. With two outs, Anderson then scored herself after third baseman Kaylie Atkinson dumped a base hit into left field.
Cal Poly threatened once more during the bottom of the seventh with a two-out double from Westlund advancing Andersen to third base. With two Mustangs in scoring position, however, Gerhart grounded out to end the game.
Cal Poly completes its three-game series and closes the 2012 season with a 12 noon contest against the Highlanders on Saturday, May 12. Prior to the matchup, the Mustangs will honor outgoing seniors Sobczak and Nicole Lund for their four-year contributions to the program.