The UCSB softball team played its first conference road games of the season against Cal State Fullerton this past weekend, losing the series by dropping two of three games with all games decided by one run.
“The games really could’ve gone either way,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “Doing more of the small things definitely would’ve secured this weekend; we could’ve swept that series.”
The two losses leave the Gauchos in third place in the conference standings and drop them to 16-24 overall and 3-3 in the Big West, while the Titans improve to 16-18 overall and 4-2 in conference and are now tied for second place in the Big West.
In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader the Gauchos’ scoring woes continued as the team registered only one run, when freshman infielder Jenessa Jeppesen hit a leadoff home run in the third inning. From there on, UCSB was shut out by freshman pitcher Desiree Ybarra, who only let two other runners reach base after giving up the home run.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and a no-hitter intact, freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom allowed a single to third base followed by a double to left center to score the runner from first base and even the score. Wisdom then gave up her third consecutive hit of the inning as the next batter singled up the middle to score the runner from second base and give the Titans a 2-1 victory.
Later in the evening, the two teams squared off once more for the second game of the doubleheader. UCSB again jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out double by junior shortstop Keilani Jennings, scoring senior designated hitter Allison Taylor. The lead was short-lived as the Titans countered in the same inning, scoring four unearned runs and taking advantage of three errors by the Gaucho defense.
Santa Barbara battled back, putting up two runs on the board in the third inning. With one last opportunity left in the seventh inning, Taylor stepped up to the plate with two outs and hit a two-run homerun to left field to complete the Gaucho rally and seal the 5-4 win.
“It was really exciting, it was so clutch for [Taylor] to get that home run,” sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil said. “We knew that we could come back; there was no doubt that we couldn’t.”
In the concluding game of the series on Saturday the Gauchos fell behind by one run in the first inning only to tie the game in the next inning. Both teams exploded in the sixth; Jennings reached base on a fielding error and scored on a single by Jeppesen. With the bases loaded, senior right fielder Brooke Putich singled scoring two runners.
After scoring a run on an infield error, the Titans put two runners on base and then hit a three-run homerun to win 5-4.
“That’s what conference is about, there’s always those ups and downs,” Pilpil said. “Now we know for future conference games that anything can happen and we can’t let down.”
The Gauchos now head back to Campus Diamond for a nonconference doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday.