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After dropping seven consecutive games in March, UCSB softball has rebounded to win five in a row and six out of its last eight, sweeping Cal Poly this weekend 10-2, 12-2 and 5-2 in San Luis Obispo.
[media-credit name="Lance Chu" align="alignleft" width="250"][/media-credit]The Gauchos have climbed back up to the .500 mark and surpassed their total number of wins from last season, improving to 18-18 on the season and 4-2 in the Big West. The Mustangs drop to 6-26 with an equivalent conference record of 4-2.
“It’s nice to sweep them,” junior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “We’ve been putting the work in and it’s nice to see it coming together at the start of conference.”
For UCSB, sophomore shortstop Keilani Jennings had a standout weekend, hitting 7-10 with seven runs and five RBI to lead the Gauchos.
In Sunday’s 5-2 win, the Gauchos scored two quick runs off singles from freshman second baseman Kathryn Pilpil, freshman centerfielder McKenzie Kane and senior third baseman Jessica Beristianos, as well as a double from Jennings. After tacking on two more runs in the fifth, UCSB’s final run came off a homer by Jennings. Cal Poly’s two runs came in the fifth and seventh innings. Both were scored by freshman utility player Mariah Cochiolo.
In Saturday evening’s 12-2 mercy-rule win in five innings that secured the first series win over Cal Poly since 2008, all nine players were involved in UCSB’s dominating offense, with seven players scoring at least one run. Junior left fielder Brooke Putich helped fuel the offense, hitting 2-3 with four RBI.
In game one’s 10-2 victory, UCSB capitalized on three consecutive errors in the first inning by freshman shortstop Kim Westlund to open up with a 2-0 lead. Three doubles in the second inning helped UCSB score another three runs. UCSB made it home five more times, including four runs in the seventh inning to finish strong and ice the game. Kane hit 2-4 with two runs and two RBI on the outing.
“One of our biggest goals on offense is to hit the ball on the ground because people will make errors,” DePompa said. “We continued to hit the ball hard and they weren’t able to stop us.”
The Mustangs threw two different pitchers at the Gauchos to try to stop the bleeding. Five runs came off of Big West Pitcher of the Week sophomore Rebecca Patton. Senior Ana Cahn could do no better, walking four and giving up five runs in four innings.
UCSB was able to keep Cahn in check all weekend, only allowing one run on 2-5 hitting, although she managed three walks.
“We knew her hitting style and her scouting report, so we knew where we needed to put the ball for her not to get good hits,” DePompa said. “Our pitchers did a good job of working around the strike zone and getting her to chase their pitches.”
The Gauchos return home for the next two weeks to take on UC Riverside and Cal State Bakersfield.