Playing Cal State Northridge this weekend, UCSB softball will take their home field with extra motivation after losing the final game of the series to UC Riverside last weekend, which snapped their nine-game win streak.
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignright” width=”250″][/media-credit]With an overall record of 22-19 and a Big West record of 6-3, the Gauchos sit in a three-way tie for second place in the Big West. The Matadors, who are coming off a 1-2 series against Pacific, are 15-26 with a Big West record of 3-6.
“We took the series, which is most important,” junior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “There were a couple of misplayed balls and lucky hits for Riverside and they were back in the game.”
In order to improve on last season’s sweep by Northridge, the Gauchos will need to continue to be an offensive powerhouse. UCSB is No. 2 in the Big West in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBI and stolen bases. They lead the league in doubles and at bats.
“I think the key [to our offense] has been stringing hits together,” junior utility player Amanda Ziegler said. “We know we’re not a home run hitting team and [although] people do, it’s not something we rely on. We work on moving runners.”
At press time, sophomore shortstop Keilani Jennings’ status for the weekend was still to be determined. Last weekend, Jennings — who leads the Big West in doubles and is tied for second in total bases — tallied two home runs and hit her 15th double, tying Tiffany Wright’s school record of single-season doubles.
However, the offense has come from multiple players this season for UCSB. Three Gauchos rank in the top ten in runs scored and RBI. Freshman centerfielder McKenzie Kane leads the league in hits and is tied for No.1 in stolen bases.
“We’ve been really consistent from top to bottom in our lineup,” DePompa said. “As a team, every single person has been contributing and that’s what I attribute most to our success.”
While the Matadors rank No. 2 to last in batting average and hits and last in ERA, they are No. 3 in stolen bases. They also know how to hit the long ball, topping the league in home runs and sacrifice flies.
“We have noticed that they’re a bunch of power hitters,” Ziegler said. “They hit the ball really hard, so I think the key for us is to keep our tempo on defense and do the basics.”
Two of the top four players in the Big West in slugging percentage, sophomore catcher Mikayla Thielges and junior utility Jaci Carlsen, wear Matador jerseys. Thielges leads the Big West in home runs, is tied for second in RBI and is third in walks.
The three-game series begins today at noon and will conclude Saturday at noon.