The UCSB softball team travels back to San Luis Obispo to take on Cal Poly in the third and final game of its season series.
The Gauchos defeated the Mustangs in both of their two season meetings last week by scores of 3-1 and 1-0.
The Gauchos have battled their way out of a mid-season slump in which they lost six out of seven games, and now find themselves in fourth place in the Big West with a 6-5 conference record and 25-16 overall record. Cal Poly is in fifth place at 6-8 in the Big West and 17-26 overall.
Santa Barbara is currently on a two-game winning streak and has won four of its last five — all Big West games. The big story in those games has been the team’s defense, led by freshman pitcher Alex Pingree.
Pingree has shown in the last week what she is capable of. In the three games she started this past week, the Gauchos’ offense was only able to muster up one run in each, but they came away with three wins as Pingree threw three shutouts.
The effort earned Pingree her first ever Big West Pitcher of the Week. Her record in starts is 6-2, the best winning percentage of any pitcher on the team by far. Pingree also has a 1.72 ERA, which puts her at third best in the Big West.
UCSB will have to watch out for the Mustangs’ first two hitters on the lineup in junior utility Jillian Andersen and junior second baseman Ashley Romano.
Andersen’s .333 batting average is good for fourth in the Big West and Romano’s 26 runs put her at ninth in league.
Right after Andersen and Romano in the lineup is junior infielder Kim Westlund who hits at a .315 clip and has a team-high 19 RBI this season.
The Mustangs’ have struggled mightily with their power hitting this year. Their top five batters have only two home runs between them and as a team they have only managed nine on the season.
The Gauchos, on the other hand, continue to be led by the power hitting of Shelby Wisdom and senior shortstop Keilani Jennings. Between the two, they have managed 60 of the Gauchos’ 137 RBI this season. With seven and six home runs, respectively, they have four more home runs than the entire Cal Poly team.
Complementing Santa Barbara’s power hitters is the trio of freshman infielder Arianna Palomares, senior outfielder Jessica Soria and junior second baseman Kathryn Pilpil.
Palomares and Soria lead the team with .323 and .317 batting averages, respectively, while Soria is second in the Big West in runs with 30 and fourth in hits with 44.
In last week’s 3-1 victory Cal Poly, Palomares came up big with a 2-4 day and two RBI. She owns the top batting average on the team, hitting at a .323 clip.
Soria is second in the Big West in runs with 30 and is also second in the conference in stolen bases, with an astounding 20 steals on 22 attempts this season.
UCSB plays Cal Poly at 3 p.m. today.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of April 17th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus