The UCSB softball team travels to No. 21 UCLA today to take on the Bruins in its final non-conference game of the season.
Entering today in fourth place in the Big West, the Gauchos have lost three of their last four games, owning a 7-8 record in conference games and a 26-19 record overall.
UCLA comes into today’s game at 30-15 overall and is in sixth place in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 conference record.
The Bruins will be the Gauchos’ sixth matchup against a Top 25 team so far this season. With two more conference losses already than all of last year, UCSB will look for a confidence boost today against the rival Bruins. Nevertheless, Santa Barbara is just 0-6 against ranked teams and has been outscored by a total of 36-6.
“Anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” junior first baseman Lauren Boser said. “We’ve played a few ranked teams this season and played well against them.”
The Bruins are coming off two straight blowout wins over Arizona this past weekend, a team that outscored the Gauchos 21-2 in their two games just two weekends ago.
UCLA is powered by its offense, which averages just under 5.5 runs per game, compared to UCSB’s 3.5 runs-per-game average.
Leading the Bruins’ offensive charge is its first three batters in the lineup in sophomore infielder Stephany LaRosa, sophomore pitcher Ally Carda and senior outfielder B.B. Bates.
At leadoff hitter, LaRosa owns a batting average of .379, which would be good enough for first place if she were in the Big West. Her 40 RBI would also lead the Big West’s number one hitter by a significant margin.
Bates serves as UCLA’s number one slugger, coming in with an astounding 51 RBI in 45 games. Bates and Carda have also piled up 17 and 14 home runs, respectively.
UCLA’s pitching rotation allows just 2.4 runs per game, with Carda leading the way as the team’s number one pitcher. She has a record of 20-8 and has struck out almost 31 percent of the batters she has faced.
For UCSB, offense has been a struggle as of late, having scored just 11 runs in their last 10 games, and therefore will be a big key to the game for Santa Barbara.
Led by the pitching duo of sophomore Shelby Wisdom and freshman Alex Pingree, the Gauchos’ defense has kept the team alive, helping win low-scoring games when the team can’t string hits together. In the last 10 games, the Gauchos came away with five wins thanks to giving up just two runs in those games.
“The scoreboard may not reflect [it], but we’ve been putting in a lot of work,” Boser said. “We just need to get the big hits when we get the chance.”
Wisdom and senior shortstop Keilani Jennings continue to be options one and two for the Gauchos on offense, with Wisdom now leading the team with a .326 batting average and Jennings leading the team with seven home runs.
Wisdom is also fourth in the Big West with 33 RBI while Jennings is tied for 10th with 28 RBI.
The game will be played at 3:00 p.m. today at UCLA.
A version of this article appeared on page 14 of April 24th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.