The UCSB softball team played well as the hosts of the Gaucho Classic this weekend, finishing with a 3-2 record and improving to 8-2 on the season.
Despite dropping two games to its toughest opponent this season in No. 8 Missouri, UCSB bounced back with a victory over Fresno State and two gritty, close wins over the University of San Diego.
“We did really well this weekend on stringing hits together, but I think overall we can work on just picking each other up and keeping the energy going,” freshman outfielder Arianna Palomares said. “We’re in a really good place right now.”
The two games played against Missouri were the first real tests for numerous players on the young UCSB squad, and the result was a pair of blowout losses for the Gauchos. After falling behind 5-1 early in their first game of the weekend against the Tigers, a two-run homer by first baseman Lauren Boser in the fourth inning would cut the lead to 5-3. However, Missouri pushed their lead to 11-3 in the fifth inning and ended the game on the run rule.
In the Gauchos’ second game of the day against San Diego, they were able to hold on to a 5-4 lead to pull off their first home win of the season. Sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom brought in junior outfielder McKenzie Kane for the winning run when she grounded out to third base, and followed it up by striking out the Toreros’ final batter in the bottom of the seventh.
Against Fresno State on Saturday, Wisdom was excellent at pitcher, shutting out the Bulldogs through the first five innings. The most impressive effort in the game, though, was given by senior shortstop Keilani Jennings, who was responsible for all five of the runs scored by the Gauchos.
Despite two runs from the Bulldogs in the sixth inning, Wisdom was able to finish them off, retiring three straight batters in the seventh. Jennings ended the day 3-3 with five RBI and two home runs, and Wisdom improved to 5-1 on the season at pitcher. Fresno fell to 6-6 on the season with the loss.
The Gauchos’ second effort against Missouri on Sunday. Up 5-0, Missouri would pile on two more runs in the fifth and five in the seventh to knock off the Gauchos 12-1 and improve to 5-0 on the season.
In the final game of the weekend, the Gauchos again found themselves tied with the Toreros in the seventh inning, but an extra inning would be needed to decide this one. Freshman catcher Samantha Stark hit a walk off double to bring Boser in for the winning run, giving the Gauchos a 3-2 victory. San Diego fell to 3-4 on the season with the two losses against UCSB.
“The games weren’t as clean as they had been for most of the year, but the exciting thing is that we pulled out these close games,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “Just being able to pull out these close games when we’re not playing the cleanest ball, they showed a lot of grit.”
UCSB next plays Friday against Oklahoma in the Cathedral City Classic.