RIVERSIDE – Senior Kirra Loucks belted her first collegiate home run Sunday afternoon, but the Cal Poly softball program stranded four baserunners in scoring position versus UC Riverside and fell in the series finale at Amy S. Harrison Field, 3-1.
Courtesy of a double play, Cal Poly was retired in order to start Sunday's game and the Mustangs themselves worked out of a jam during the bottom half of the first after UC Riverside loaded the bases with one down. Mustang starting sophomore righthander Dakota Casper (1-4) forced a fly out from first baseman Amanda Lynch and a ground out by catcher Sarah Parten to strand the bases loaded.
Retired in order again in the second, Cal Poly utilized a leadoff walk from freshman shortstop Maddie Amos to begin the third and successive sacrifice bunts from senior left fielder Sydney James and sophomore second baseman Hannah Ramelot to place two Mustangs in scoring position with one down. However, senior third baseman Noa Yakir flew out and sophomore center fielder Noellah Ramos grounded out as Cal Poly stranded two.
UC Riverside (19-13, 2-1) then loaded the bases during the bottom half of the third before first baseman Melanie Olmos singled to left field to plate Highlanders third baseman Emma Ramelot for Sunday's opening run. On the sequence, right fielder Danielle Ortega scored as well after James mishandled the ball in left field. Lynch then brought home second baseman Brittany Garcia to complete UC Riverside's 3-0 lead.
Held hitless until senior right fielder Crimson Kaiser singled with two down in the fourth, Cal Poly found its opening run when Loucks – in just her 24th collegiate game and 19th career at-bat – homered to left center field to trim UC Riverside's deficit to 3-1.
The Mustangs enjoyed one final chance to further cut into UC Riverside's lead as a sixth-inning wild pitch from Highlanders reliever Jacy Boles advanced Ramos to third and senior catcher Makenna Young to second with one down. Boles recovered to strike out Kaiser and force a fly out from junior designated player Shelby Jeffries to strand two additional baserunners.
Cal Poly (7-26, 1-2) returns home to Bob Janssen Field to host Hawai'i for an April 5-6, three-game series that opens with a 5 p.m. matchup on Friday, April 5.