The UCSB softball team hit the road on Thursday and defeated Weber State 4-1 in its first game in the Mayfair Invitational in Long Beach. The Gauchos play four more games this weekend against South Alabama, UNLV, North Dakota State and Charleston Southern.
UCSB comes into the Mayfair Invitational a confident team, owning the best overall record in the Big West at 14-5 and coming off a 5-0 home-stand last weekend.
“It’s our fight. I think it’s really good,” freshman outfielder Arianna Palomares said. “If we have close conference games, we know we can close those out because of our fight.”
The Gauchos owe their Big West-leading record to their ability to finish at the end of close games. Six of their 15 wins have been decided by one run and/or in extra innings, and they are 8-0 in games decided by three runs or less.
“Our motto this year is resilience and I think we’re really resilient,” senior outfielder Jessica Soria said. “Even if a team punches us really hard, we punch back harder.”
Up next for UCSB is South Alabama, a team on a roll with a five game winning streak and an 18-2 record. The Jaguars have been excellent behind their pitching squad, led by junior Hannah Campbell and sophomore Farish Beard. The two have dominated with ERAs of 0.85 and 1.24, respectively, and the team as a whole has only given up 30 runs in 20 games this season.
Against these great pitchers, the Gauchos will need to be on their mark offensively. They own three of the Big West’s top ten hitters in Palomares, Soria and senior shortstop Keilani Jennings.
Palomares has been extremely impressive this year and leads the entire Big West with a .410 batting average. Soria and Palomares are tied atop the Big West in total hits with 25, while Jennings lands at fourth in RBI with 15.
Sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom has been great on both offense and defense this season. She is the team’s number one pitcher with a solid 2.48 ERA, and is tied for first in the Big West with 17 RBI.
The Gauchos will play UNLV (7-13) on Friday at 11:30 a.m. and close out the tournament against North Dakota State (7-10) and Charleston Southern (4-11) on Saturday. UCSB is 10-1 this year against teams below .500.