By: Kevin Contreras, Sports Editor
UCR’s Highlanders continue their 2022 softball season, playing a quick 3-game series against the visiting Rainbow Wahine. The Highlanders performance thus far this season has been a steady improvement from last year, as they currently sit in sixth place in the Big West season. The Highlanders lost to Hawaii in the opening matchup on Friday night, 0-2. On Saturday afternoon the next day, the team managed a victory to set the series even.
The Highlanders started off the game strong, with their first points coming in during the first inning. Junior infielder Lauryn Garewal was up to bat first, hitting a solid single down left field. Senior outfielder Haylee Kela, confidently stepped up to the plate next. After a few pitches from the Hawaiian defense, Kela batted an impressive homer over center field, bringing herself and Garewal home to put UCR on the scoreboard 2-0.
The Rainbow Warriors were eager to stay in the game, managing an impressive run in the third inning courtesy of senior outfielder Britnee Rossi. Rossi homered down centerfield, leaving them behind 2-1. Hawaii carried that momentum, as well as their impressive batting ability, into the fourth inning where they managed to tie the game. Sophomore utility player Ka‘ena Keliinoi was first up to bat and hit a remarkable homer allowing her to take a lap around the baseball diamond and tie the game at 2.
Both teams were unable to convert runs in the fifth inning, but tensions returned in the sixth inning as UCR found themselves with an opportunity to break the tie. Junior Briza Blanco pinch hit for freshman Taylor Burdette. Blanco walked to first, but was soon replaced by Burdette who committed a pinch run on behalf of Blanco. Senior Outfielder Nadia Witt then came on to bring Burdette home with a momentous triple down center field, allowing Burdette to score and put UCR in the lead 3-1. In the final seventh inning, Hawaii tried to tie the game but was unable to make it past first base, marking the Highlander victory.
Game 3 of the 3 game series happened immediately after game 2 where the Highlanders closed out the series with an unfortunate 7-1 score.
This upcoming weekend, the UCR softball returns to the road for another 3-game series this time against the Cal State Northridge matadors.