The spark that lit the bats of the Santa Barbara softball team at UCSB’s Easton Invitational did not make the trip to Utah with the squad this past weekend.
The Gauchos finished the Red Desert Classic with a 2-3 record after sweeping the two Utah teams they faced, but were unable to come up on top in their games against Stanford, Missouri and Oklahoma State.
“We definitely could have won more games with a clutch hit from someone,” freshman pitcher Ashley Carroll said. “We just couldn’t get that one hit at the right time.”
They started off the tourney in Gaucho winning fashion when they came away with a 2-1 victory over Southern Utah, using defense and pitching to oust the opponent. Santa Barbara was only able to muster two hits in the game, but that was all it needed when sophomore catcher Jami Trinidad knocked a two-run single to give the Gauchos a lead they would hold on to through the end.
Sophomore hurler Sylvia Santos notched the win for the Gauchos, lasting six innings before sophomore pitcher Loren Thornburg relieved her in the seventh to nail the save.
In the second half of the first-day doubleheader, Thornburg put in a tremendous performance against nationally ranked Stanford, allowing only two runs on three hits. But the two runs were enough for the Cardinals to pull out the win when UCSB failed to produce at the plate, leaving a goose egg on the scoreboard.
“A lot of people are hitting well,” Trinidad said. “We just can’t seem to get those hits at the right time.”
On day two of the tourney, the Gauchos faced Missouri in the first game of the doubleheader. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when senior third baseman Teresa Tolson cracked a double into the outfield to score Santa Barbara’s only run. UCSB would not hold the one-run lead for long, as the Tigers answered in the sixth with three runs to secure the game.
“Our defense did their job; we just couldn’t produce runs,” Carroll said.
Trinidad agreed that offensive production has been the downfall of this year’s squad.
“We made some errors that really cost us,” she said. “But the main reason that we lost is that we just didn’t score that much.”
In game two of the second day, the Gauchos continued their domination of the Utah schools with a win over Utah State. Santa Barbara took advantage of two Utah State errors for two unearned runs. Each team went on to score a run apiece, and the Gauchos walked away with the 3-1 victory.
The team wrapped up the tournament on the third day by going scoreless in a 2-0 loss to Oklahoma State before heading back to Santa Barbara.
“Overall, it was a pretty good tournament, but we were somewhat disappointed because we just couldn’t get the hits that we needed,” Santos said.
Next stop for the Gauchos is San Jose this weekend, March 9-11, where UCSB will compete against teams across the nation in the National Invitational Tournament.
“We are looking forward to getting some more games under our belt,” Santos said. “There should be some good competition up in San Jose this weekend.”