With its first conference series out of the way, the UCSB softball team will pack up their bags to travel to Anderson Family Field this weekend for a three-game series against conference opponent Cal State Fullerton.
“If 10 is our maximum potential, we weren’t a 10,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “We still have to improve things before Fullerton.”
Santa Barbara enters with a 15-23 overall record and is 2-1 in the Big West after defeating Long Beach State twice, 5-4 and 3-1, last weekend at Campus Diamond. The two wins put the Gauchos at the top of the conference table with three other teams including Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans are 14-17 overall and 2-1 in conference after winning a three-game series against Cal Poly, earning a split of Sunday’s doubleheader to take the series. Senior infielder Nicole Johnson proved to be the difference in the series as she hit 5-5 and reached base in all 10 of her plate appearances. Johnson was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in the first game of the series and had four walks combined in Sunday’s games to earn Big West Player of the Week honors.
“Last year they had a lot of strong power hitters, not too much short game,” sophomore pitcher Andriana Collins said. “It’s really just going to be about making adjustments offensively and defensively knowing what kind of batters are coming up and pitching to their weakness and making defensive executions.”
Freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom led the way for the Gaucho pitching staff last weekend, tossing complete games in two of three games she pitched, working a total of 19 and two-thirds innings and allowing just two earned runs with 19 strikeouts over the three-game series. With 137 total strikeouts, she ranks second in the Big West.
“Shelby really worked ahead well, she finished fast and kept the hitters off balance,” Collins said. “That’s really the best thing you can do as a pitcher.”
The pitching success did not carry over to the offense as the Gaucho hitters had a measly .182 batting average with 12 hits. Sophomore outfielder McKenzie Kane leads the Gaucho attack; her .314 batting average and 16 runs scored are the best on the team. Junior outfielder Jessica Soria is entering this weekend’s series with a nine-game hitting streak and 38 hits, which ranks fourth overall in the conference.
“Our offense is capable of putting more hits and more runs,” Galicinao said. “We’re definitely going to be working on that in practice.”
First pitch for the first game of Friday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 4 p.m., with the second game to be played right after.