On paper, this weekend’s series should be an easy one for the UCSB softball team.
The Gauchos make the long road trip north to face a UC Davis team that has struggled all year at 14-25 overall and 3-6 in the Big West. Tied for sixth in conference, the Aggies are also just 1-5 at home.
Meanwhile, Santa Barbara has won five consecutive games, coming off a series sweep at Cal State Northridge last weekend. UCSB holds sole control of second place in the Big West with a 26-16 overall and 6-3 league mark.
“A lot of us are more confident in ourselves that we can do it now,” junior pitcher Shelby Wisdom said. “Our goal was to get two of three in every series, but now that we know we can get three of three, our goal is to get three.”
In addition, Davis ranks at the bottom of nearly every offensive category in the conference statistics, including runs, hits, RBI, home runs, batting average and walks.
Statistically, the Aggies aren’t much better on the defensive end, as they remain near the cellar in runs, hits and ERA.
Then again, this is the competitive Big West Conference and Davis also won its series last weekend, taking two of three games against a good Cal Poly team.
The Aggies won their games by keeping the score low, defeating the Mustangs 3-2 in both games. Davis’ best pitcher is freshman Andrea Reynolds, who ranks seventh in conference in ERA at 3.25, just one spot behind Wisdom.
“It’s the Big West Conference and our coach always tells us that the Big West is a roller coaster,” Wisdom said. “Teams have great days and then will have their worst days. Whatever day they bring us, we’ll have our best day.”
Reynolds will face a Gaucho team that loves to score frequently. Led by senior second baseman Kathryn Pilpil, UCSB tallied 22 runs last weekend. Pilpil couldn’t be stopped offensively, recording four doubles, five runs and three RBI on 6-10 hitting. Her effort led to Big West Field Player of the Week honors earlier this week.
“[Pilpil] did really well defensively and offensively,” Wisdom said. “The whole team played well. Once we put the bat to the ball and started hitting holes, it got contagious and we couldn’t stop hitting.”
Along with freshman leftfielder Kristen Clark, the duo rank among the top seven in the Big West in runs. Clark also leads the Big West in hits with 67, nine more than the second-ranked player.
Wisdom will also be a key player this weekend as she also leads the team in RBI with 26 and is tied for most home runs on the season with five, but also is the lead pitcher for UCSB. Last weekend she pitched every inning in the sweep, earning three wins to increase her record to 13-10.
“It’s the same focus as last weekend — getting our bunts down, moving runners and playing strong defense,” Wisdom said.
The series will begin tomorrow with a double-header and conclude Saturday. First pitch Friday is set for 1 p.m. at La Rue Field.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of April 17, 2014′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.