The UCSB softball team took on No. 21 UCLA yesterday, looking for a big upset.
And the team had the chance to make it happen with a tie ball game in the third inning, but the effort came up short for Santa Barbara as the team fell 8-3 to the Bruins.
The Gauchos are now 26-20 on the season and are still third best in the Big West with a 7-8 conference record. The Bruins improved to 31-15 with the win.
“I think [we feel] as though we had more to give [today],” junior infielder Jessica Reichner said. “We wish we had another opportunity to face them.”
Unfortunately for UCSB, the only chance they had to beat their UC rivals this season didn’t go their way, thanks largely in part to a 3-3, 4-RBI day from sophomore pitcher Ally Carda.
While the Gauchos scored three runs, the most they’ve scored in the last 12 games, they also gave up the most runs since the first weekend of April.
UCSB scored all its runs on a single swing by sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom in the third inning.
After the Bruins came out firing with a 3-0 lead through the first two innings, Wisdom stepped up to the plate for the second time in the game with senior centerfielder Jessica Soria on second and junior second baseman Kathryn Pilpil on first.
Wisdom blasted the ball over right field for her seventh home run of the season, now tied for first on the team with senior shortstop Keilani Jennings.
From that point on, the story of the game was Ally Carda. The sophomore came into the game the Bruins’ second-best slugger with 14 home runs this season, and she showed the Gauchos what they had only been able to see in the scouting report with a two-run homer to answer Wisdom’s and put UCLA up 5-3.
In the next inning, UCSB got its best chance all game to take control. Facing a fresh pitcher in junior Jessica Hall, the Gauchos found themselves with three runners on base and just one out. With Wisdom coming up to bat next and Jennings right after her, they were staring their season’s first grand slam right in the face.
However, both batters struck out swinging, leaving the Gauchos possible lead-changing runs out on the field.
In the bottom of the fifth, Carda added two more runs with a single to right center and Hall picked up an RBI of her own to bring the Bruins’ lead to 8-3.
“We just need to play hard and put all our effort out on the field,” Wisdom said. “No doubt we are playing hard; we just need to play harder than the other team.”
For UCSB, the problem wasn’t the hitting slump that they’ve been in recently as their team batting average has seen a steady drop throughout April.
The Gauchos came up with eight hits in the game, just two less than UCLA’s 10, but just couldn’t string them together at the right times.
Soria and sophomore infielder Jenessa Jeppesen led UCSB’s batting, going 3-4 and 2-3, respectively.
The Gauchos come back home this weekend for three games against Cal State Northridge. They play Saturday at noon and 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at noon.
A version of this article appeared on page 8 of April 25th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.