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SOFTBALL DROPS SEASON OPENER AT UC DAVIS, 1-0

DAVIS, Calif. -- UC Davis pitchers Dana Cruse (5.0 ip) and Leah Munden (2.0 ip) combined for a three-hit shutout as the Aggies defeated Sacramento State, 1-0, in a non-conference softball doubleheader Wednesday afternoon at La Rue Field.

The game marked the season opener for Sacramento State (0-1) as the Hornets' scheduled doubleheader at Pacific last weekend was postponed because of rain. UC Davis, which was playing its second home game in as many days, improved to 2-5 with the victory. The Hornets still lead the all-time series over the Aggies, 61-35.

The Aggies got their lone run of the game in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit as Sacramento State starter Caitlin Brooks issued two walks and a hit batter during the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Brooks got Christa Castello to hit a ground ball to shortstop Yesenia Alcala. As Alcala went to throw home for what would have been a force at the plate, she double clutched on the transfer of the ball from glove to hand.

After that happened, Alcala elected to throw to first base to get the out after fearing there was no longer enough time to get the runner at the plate. Brooks then retired the next batter on a ground ball for the final out of the inning. If that double clutch at shortstop doesn't happen, these two teams might still be playing as the Aggies and Hornets combined for just six hits, five of which were singles.

Brooks (0-1) went the distance in the loss, allowing three hits, one run, six walks and a hit batter over six innings. Brooks battled wildness throughout the game, but still threw effectively despite the 123 pitches (71 for strikes).

Cruse (1-1) got the win for the Aggies, allowing two hits and three walks over five-plus innings while Munden picked up her first save, retiring six of the seven batters she faced over the final two innings.

The Hornets did have opportunities to score, but stranded seven runners on base. Sacramento State was retired in order just once (the fourth inning), and left at least one runner on base in each of the other six innings. The Hornets had runners at first and second with one out in the second, a runner at second with two outs in the fifth, and a runner at third base with two outs in the sixth inning, but could not score on each occasion.

"Our first game of the season, the team was battling nerves all day long," said Lori Perez, who was making her debut as Sacramento State's first-year head coach. "We came out swinging and ready to go, but we were just slightly off with the bats. We gave UC Davis a lot of free bases, and that usually comes back to bite you eventually.

"We are ready to play, and will eventually start clicking on all cylinders. There were some adjustments today that we didn't make, and that comes from the rustiness of not playing a game yet."

The Hornets' lone hits came off the bats of sophomores Sasha Margulies and Kayla Papez, and junior Paige Castro.

Sacramento State left fielder Alexa Chattleton made a sparkling play in the bottom of the sixth, throwing out a runner at home after a UC Davis single through the left side.

Sacramento State will play five times over three days at the Fresno State Kickoff beginning this Friday. The team will play UC Santa Barbara and Fresno State on Friday, CSU Bakersfield and UC Riverside on Saturday, and UC Riverside again on Sunday. For the complete tournament schedule, click here.

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