Gaucho softball will need to bring its A-game up north this weekend if they plan on beating Pacific in a three-game series.
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignright” width=”147″][/media-credit]UCSB (24-23 overall, 8-7 Big West) was swept by Long Beach last weekend in three games, two of which required extra innings. The Tigers sit at 32-16 with a conference record of 11-4 this year and has not dropped a single league series.
“[Long Beach] tested our limits, fighting those 13 hard innings and 28 innings total, and we learned a lot that we will take into this weekend,” senior shortstop Jessica Beristianos said. “This could be our last road trip and conference is still up for grabs. We’re ready to go out and play.”
According to the team, the games against Long Beach could be useful practice for the difficult games that lie ahead.
“I think in general they’re very similar teams,” junior third baseman Amanda Ziegler said. “They have similar pitching and, like Long Beach, they have a lot of power in their lineup. They have some speed, but really just good hitters.”
Fortunately for UCSB, Big West Pitcher of the Week Erin Jones-Wesley from CSULB won’t be in the circle this weekend. Instead, the start will go to Pacific’s sophomore Nikki Armagost, who ranks fourth in ERA and third in batters struck out.
The Tigers rank first in batting average, slugging percentage, hits and RBI. Pacific will utilize multiple players, including the Big West’s top three in batting average as well as five of the top six in runs scored.
“They’re a good hitting team and they string a lot of hits together,” Beristianos said. “We have to catch them off-guard.”
UCSB will look to stick to its strategy of stringing hits together. The team leads the Big West in at-bats and doubles, breaking 2000’s single-season school record last weekend with 65 doubles.
“We need to execute, get on base and then run from there,” Ziegler said. “We need to take their pitchers out of the game. Our coach always says, ‘if we can take a pitcher out of their game, we’ve done our job.’”
With Keilani Jennings out for the season with a knee injury, other Gauchos have stepped up offensively. Junior right fielder Allison Taylor led UCSB against Long Beach, batting .308. She has found a hit in seven of the last eight games.
“[Taylor’s] been great,” junior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “She’s been coming up very clutch and consistent on offense.”
DePompa has caught fire too, but flew under the radar. With the exception of the Long Beach series, DePompa has registered a hit in 13 out of the last 16 games.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t really give her all the credit she deserves because she’s a very selfless player and she’s very smart, so she can read the defense,” Ziegler said. “Being a catcher also helps her because she knows what’s going to be thrown at her and she knows the game so well.”
Games begin at Bill Simoni Field at noon on Friday before the series finale on Saturday at 10 a.m.