In its final homestand of the regular season, the UCSB softball team was able to stay in contention for first place in the Big West as the Gauchos completed a sweep of Cal Poly at Campus Diamond last weekend.
“We wanted to get that sweep,” sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil said. “It’s good we ended on a good note at Campus Diamond.”
The Gauchos are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Big West with a 27-28 overall record and 12-6 in conference, two games behind Long Beach State with only one series left in the season. Cal Poly is now 12-34 overall and 4-14 in conference.
In game one of the series, the Gauchos trailed by a run going into the bottom of the third inning when freshman infielder Jenessa Jeppesen hit a homerun to center field to tie the score at one run apiece. With runners on the corners in the fourth, freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom singled the runner home, and one out later, sophomore outfielder McKenzie Kane gave UCSB a 3-1 lead on an RBI single.
Wisdom was able to take over the game, allowing only one other batter to reach base and striking out seven hitters total, pitching a complete game to get the win, 4-1.
“We were so loose, even though the game was only a three-run win,” Pilpil said. “On the field, it didn’t seem like that even though it was only a 4-1 win, it felt much better than that.”
More offense was on display for game two of the doubleheader as both teams combined for 24 hits in the matchup. Jeppesen gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead in the second with a single, scoring the runner on third. Wisdom was victim to the long ball, giving up solo homeruns in the third and fourth innings to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.
Down to their last out and trailing 4-3, junior shortstop Keilani Jennings belted her team-leading sixth home run of the season to send the game into extra innings. Cal Poly failed to advance two runners on base in the eighth, setting the stage for Jeppesen to drive home the game-winning run in the bottom of the inning on her fifth hit of the day.
“Our plans in the bottom of the seventh were to just push one run across and push the game into extra innings, and with one swing we were able to do that,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “They really believed they were going to win that game.”
Five seniors were honored in their final home game before the start of the third game. In the series finale, UCSB again came out swinging early in the game by way of the long ball; with runners on second and third, Jeppesen hit a three-run homerun for a 3-0 lead. UCSB added two more runs — one in the fourth inning and one in the fifth — as Wisdom dominated from the mound.
Wisdom threw a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and striking out at least one batter in every inning. The game was called after the sixth inning as the Gauchos put up three more runs and won 8-0 on the mercy rule.
“They did a good job of focusing, and all the seniors played a role in the win,” Galicinao said. “It was really good for the seniors to cap off their final home game like that.”
UCSB now goes on the road this Friday to Cal State Northridge with the potential of winning the Big West if Long Beach State stumbles in the final weekend of play.