While the UCSB softball team began the season with one of the best starts in program history, the Gauchos did not start Big West play the way they hoped, losing two of three games at Cal State Fullerton.
Falling in the final two contests, Santa Barbara drops to 21-12 overall and 1-2 in conference play. Cal State Fullerton improves to 21-13 and 2-1 in the Big West.
“Our goal was to take at least two (games),” junior pitcher Shelby Wisdom said. “We aren’t very happy with our results. We’re going to have to keep working hard.”
In yesterday’s final game to decide the victor of the three-game series, both teams were hot offensively. Tied at seven apiece after four innings of play, the Titans put the game away in the sixth inning when sophomore second baseman Samantha Galarza hit a grand slam to left centerfield.
“They’re a great hitting team, so I’m disappointed in myself for them hitting that home run,” Wisdom said. “The only thing I could think was that we still had two innings to score some more runs, but we couldn’t string hits again. Our offense wasn’t fully there the last two games.”
One of the four scoring runs was that of sophomore third baseman Missy Taukeiaho. She finished the day hitting 2-2 with two runs and four RBI, bringing her series total to an outstanding 6-8, five runs and nine RBI.
Leading UCSB on the offensive end were Wisdom, who hit 2-4 with one run and three RBI, and senior first baseman Lauren Boser, who went 2-3 with one run and one RBI.
The offensive momentum Fullerton entered yesterday’s game with stems from game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, in which the Titans crushed the Gauchos 10-0. Ended in the fifth inning with the mercy rule, none of UCSB’s pitchers could find a rhythm.
From the very beginning, Fullerton took control, scoring seven runs in the first inning. On the game, eight different Titans scored with Taukeiaho scoring at will. She was involved in seven of Fullerton’s 10 runs, hitting 3-3 with two runs and five RBI.
“We couldn’t hit that game. We couldn’t figure out the pitcher,” Wisdom said. “That’s one thing we need to work on. Not everything is going to go our way and we need to fight back harder.”
Game one of the series showed a very different Santa Barbara team as the Gauchos earned the 6-1 victory.
With the score tied at one entering the sixth, UCSB scored five runs in the final two innings on two home runs. Freshman shortstop Emily Brucelas brought in two runs in the sixth with her homer to left centerfield and Boser followed suit one inning later, hitting a three-run homer to the same area to seal the game.
“We out-hit them and our defense was great,” Wisdom said. “Once we scored that first run, we kept scoring. Hits are contagious.”
Boser led UCSB offensively, hitting 2-3 with one run and one RBI. In the circle for Santa Barbara, Wisdom gave up just three hits while striking out four in her 11th complete game of the season. She also contributed on the offensive end, going 2-4 with three RBI.
The Gauchos continue play Tuesday when they take on Oregon in a double-header. Game one is slated to begin at 3 p.m.
A version of this article appeared in March 31, 2014′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Dustin Harris of The Daily Nexus.