The UCSB softball team will try to pick up some momentum this weekend when they take on the No. 19 Arizona Wildcats. After going just 1-4 in their last five games, the Gauchos could use a couple wins to boost their confidence.
“For the caliber of the players we have, we know we can do better,” sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom said. “We are playing hard; we just need to play harder than our opponent.”
Despite owning the Big West’s third best overall record at 21-13, the Gauchos currently sit in fifth place due to a disappointing 2-4 start to conference play.
They travel to Tucson this weekend to face their next opponent in the Wildcats, a team with a similar record of 23-13, but a much more imposing 14-4 record at home.
The Wildcats are led on offense by the batting of sophomore catcher Chelsea Goodacre, who has piled up an impressive 40 RBI and 12 home runs at a .376 clip this season.
Arizona gives up more runs than UCSB does, with top junior pitchers Shelby Babcock and Estela Piñon averaging ERAs of 3.37 and 3.80, respectively, but they can owe their good record to their excellent offense.
For the Gauchos, the struggle has been on the offensive side of the ball. In their 13 losses this season, they have averaged just 1.38 runs per game, as opposed to 5.95 runs per game in wins. Stringing hits together has been an issue this season, and it was at its worst during their recent four-game losing streak.
Although UCSB does not play a Big West team this weekend, they know that they need to play better if they are going to have a chance at the Big West title.
“The big thing is just to stick with our game plan,” freshman outfielder Arianna Palomares said. “I have no doubt that the rest of conference will go great, we just need to keep fighting and playing hard.”
Pitching has not been a weakness this season for the Gauchos, behind top pitching ace Wisdom’s 2.53 ERA. Freshman Alex Pingree has also emerged with solid outings in the past weeks and owns a team high 1.87 ERA in five starts.
The Gauchos can’t afford to dig themselves a bigger hole in the Big West than they are already in. With important conference games on the horizon, they could really use the momentum boost with wins at Arizona.
“Even though we’ve come up short in these past games, our softball looks good,” Palomares said. “We’re in a good place.”
UCSB plays Arizona at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.