Riding a six-game losing streak entering their home opener at Campus Diamond, the UCSB softball team came out of the weekend winners of five out of six games, including two wins against a ranked opponent.
The Gauchos were finally able to put the pieces together on the field, improving their record to 6-11.
“It is nice to come out and play on our home turf,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “They had a good week of practice, and they brought it to the games and got a good outcome. This was the first time the team played the way we see them in practice.”
Thursday’s home opener against No. 23 Houston saw the Gauchos take an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles in the second and third inning before Houston tied the game in the top of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly.
UCSB answered back in their half of the sixth; junior center fielder Jessica Soria tripled to right center, sending home senior left fielder Brooke Putich and senior catcher Lainey DePompa and sealing the 5-3 victory, which was Galicinao’s 100th career victory at UCSB.
The second game of Thursday’s doubleheader showcased the Gauchos’ most efficient performance of the season, scoring six runs on 13 hits. Sophomore pitcher Andriana Collins pitched a complete game, striking out four batters and only giving up one run in the 6-1 win.
“I felt a little tight in the beginning,” Collins said. “The defense is going to be there to back me up and obviously the hitting makes it a lot easier to pitch relaxed when you have a bunch of runs scored ahead. That was the biggest thing, just keep relaxed and confidence in my team.”
Collins continued her excellent pitching in Friday’s match versus Nevada, allowing just two runs on seven hits, striking out five batters on another seven innings of work. Santa Barbara was able to take the lead in the fifth inning, coming back from a 2-1 deficit on a two-run homerun by freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom, securing the 3-2 win for the Gauchos.
Sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil’s early solo homerun in the second inning was the only run the team needed in Saturday’s match against UNLV as the Gauchos won another one-run game 1-0. Wisdom continued doing work on the plate and on the mound, pitching her first complete game shutout of her college career and striking out eight Rebel batters.
“I think our defense and our offense backs up pretty well,” Soria said. “We were losing a lot and it was kinda tough so we went in with a lot of fight.”
In Sunday’s rematch against Nevada, UCSB jumped on the Wolf Pack in the first inning; DePompa had a two-run homer to left field for her first of the season. The Gauchos closed the inning putting up five runs on the scoreboard and scored one run in the second and third to put the game out of reach, winning 8-1.
In the final game, UCSB went up 1-0 in the fifth inning before San Diego put up five runs in the sixth to hand the Gauchos their only defeat of the tournament.
“We weren’t adjusting; we had a little backwards at bat, swinging at balls, taking strikes,” Galicinao said. “We made the adjustments a little late so if we had that starting from inning one, it would have been a different game.”
With the home stand now over, the Gauchos now head off to Honolulu for the Hawaii Invitational starting on March 2.