First-years shine in USD loss
Halle Kyler and Katie Vretzos impress, but USD drops home opener to Campbell, 3-1
The University of San Diego’s softball team opened their spring season with a game against Campbell University last Thursday. Under the lights at the USD Softball Complex, a festive atmosphere for opening night was certainly present, but ultimately the Toreros lost the game 3-1.
Behind a strong pitching performance from first-year Halle Kyler, the Toreros surrendered just four hits.
The most significant of those hits came in the second inning, when Campbell’s Lizabeth McCurry hit a two-run homer off of USD’s Delaney Heller to right field to give the Camels a 2-0 lead. Heller, who started the game, exited after just 1 2/3 innings pitched.
Following that two-run blow, however, Kyler came in and effectively silenced a rowdy Campbell team for the majority of the game. Kyler, a right-handed pitcher from nearby Lakeside, California, pitched more like a seasoned veteran than a first-year player. In her first collegiate appearance, Kyler allowed just one run on two hits across 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven in the process.
USD head softball coach Melissa McElvain spoke about the first-year pitcher’s performance.
“Halle threw well,” McElvain said. “She came in when we were behind in the game and just attacked the zone. She throws pretty hard and she just did a really good job of going right at hitters. Her dropball was really effective against this team so we just kept going to that, and she did a really good job with it.”
Kyler’s pitching performance wasn’t enough for the Toreros during the game. Offensively, USD had their chances, but left nine players on base. Campbell’s Megan Richards pitched a complete game and kept the Torero offense in check with the exception of a late-inning rally.
Things heated up for the Toreros in the fifth inning when first-year second baseman Katie Vretzos singled to shallow left field with the bases loaded, driving in designated hitter Sara Stone. Beyond that, though, the Toreros were unable to capitalize.
Following two strikeouts and a groundout, USD left the bases loaded in the fifth. McElvain attributed the Toreros’ lack of offense to not putting the ball in play enough.
“We had some quality at-bats, but we had too many strikeouts,” McElvain said. “We really have to do a better job at just putting the ball in play, especially with runners in scoring position. We talked as a team about making an adjustment, shortening up, and putting the ball in play. (Richards) was throwing up in the zone and we were chasing that a little bit, so we just need to make an adjustment.”
Regardless of the Torero loss, McElvain said that she was impressed with the performance of her first-year players, including second baseman Katie Vretzos. Vretzos was 2-4 and batted in the Toreros’ only run of the game.
“(Kyler and Vretzos) came in and settled in, and they did a really good job,” McElvain said. “Two freshmen did an awesome job for us, Katie hitting-wise and Halle pitching-wise, so that was great. It’s exciting to see.”
As for the season ahead, McElvain said her team has a lot to look forward to.
“It’s very early; we’re definitely not worried,” McElvain said. “It’s just about how quickly we can make adjustments, at bat to at bat, even pitch to pitch. But we saw good things, we saw really good things.”
The Toreros return home Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m. for an evening game against Long Beach State University.