UBC softball beats two ranked teams to reach AII semifinal

Quinn Dhaliwal

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – Sixth-seeded University of British Columbia pulled off the two biggest upsets of the day Thursday in the opening day of the 2014 Association of Independent Institutions Conference Softball Championships in Lawrenceville, Ga.

The Thunderbirds (16-13) opened with a 7-6 win over third-seeded University of Houston-Victoria and then scored eight first-inning runs en route to an 11-5 win over second-seeded California State-San Marcos.

The Thunderbirds are now just one win away from capturing one of the two automatic qualifying berths to the NAIA National Softball Championships. The Thunderbirds will face top-seeded LSU-Alexandria, a 14-13 winner over host Georgia Gwinnett, at 1 p.m. Pacific on Friday with the winner advancing to Saturday’s championship game.

“Our pitchers have been outstanding and we are playing with great focus,” said UBC head coach Gord Collings. “We have had clutch hits at the right times and except for a few miscues have been great defensively. We still have a tough road ahead and need to bring our best effort tomorrow.”

UBC scored three unearned runs in the seventh and then held off UHV, the 19th-ranked team in the NAIA, to claim the one-run win in the opening game. Quinn Dhaliwal was 2-for-3 with three RBI in the win for the Thunderbirds. She drove in two runs in the second give the Thunderbirds an early 2-1 advantage. Olivia Zwick then scored on a wild pitch. Dhaliwal’s third RBI of the game put UBC ahead 4-2 in the sixth inning but Houston-Victoria plated three runs in the bottom half of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead.

In the seventh and final inning, UBC loaded the bases which allowed Kelly Rumley‘s sacrifice fly to score Cassandra Dypchey to the game at 5-5. Then Zwick knocked her first triple of the season to right centre to score two and give the T-Birds the lead again at 7-5. Zwick ended the game with two RBI.

The Jaguars got to within a run in the bottom of the seventh but with UHV runners on first and third, UBC reliever Lindsey Ogilvie struck out Alex Holland to end the game and earn her first victory of the year.

The 7-8-9 hitters of the UBC lineup combined for six RBI and five hits in 10 at-bats.

Margarita Sison led the offensive charge against NAIA No. 5 CSUSM going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI as the Thunderbirds tallied eight times in the first and added solo runs in the second, third and fifth to open up an 11-0 lead. CSUSM finally broke through with three in the sixth and two in the seventh.

CSUSM starter Katie Wilkinson (19-4) had trouble out of the gate with her control and things were made worse by a couple of key Cougar errors. UBC chased Wilkinson, the A.I.I.’s Pitcher of the Year, in two-thirds of an inning after scoring eight runs off four hits and five walks. Ashley Dagenais would be called on to get out of the first inning and she would throw the rest of the way. Dypchey stole home in the third inning to make it 10-0 and Rumley’s RBI single made it 11-0 in the fifth. Rumley went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Shayla Kaplen, Alana Westerhof, Bains, Ogilvie and Dhaliwal also drove in runs for the blue and gold. Leigh Della Siega pitched 5.2 innings to earn the win and improve to 4-4.

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