The UCSB softball team entered this weekend’s showdown riding a five-game losing streak and without much confidence against Big West rival Long Beach State. LBSU, on the other hand, was playing solid softball, enjoying its usual post atop the conference standings.
But when the dust cleared and the three-game series had been played, it was the Gauchos who emerged victorious, winning the last two games of the series and sending the 49ers home as losers. UCSB lost game one 4-0, before taking the last two by scores of 5-4 and 5-2.
“Coming into this weekend, we wanted to win one game,” sophomore catcher Jami Trinidad said. “With the kind of softball we had been playing, we were not hoping for much more than that.”
With such low expectations entering the series, it was no wonder that Long Beach State (18-22, 7-4 in the Big West) handled Santa Barbara easily in the first game, blanking UCSB 4-0.
However, the second day of the series proved to be a different story, as the Gauchos (14-26, 2-9) started game one with a bang, literally. Trinidad launched a two-run shot over the fence to give Santa Barbara an early lead. But LBSU would not go quietly, as it scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. The only factor that saved UCSB from losing its seventh straight game was a huge sixth-inning rally, in which the Gauchos scored three runs.
Heading into the rubber match, Santa Barbara found a new sense of confidence as a result of the previous victory.
“I was definitely thinking that we could win [the second game],” Trinidad said. “I think we all thought that we could win.”
The Gauchos didn’t only win game three on Saturday, they flexed their muscles as well. Similar to the second game on Friday, UCSB trailed late in the game. Then in the fifth inning, junior second baseman Kim Sawyer opened the floodgates with a solo home run that led to a five-run explosion. From there, Santa Barbara never looked back, as sophomore Sylvia Santos closed out the game en route to her sixth win of the year.
The series win was important for UCSB as it tries to turn its season back in the right direction. Needless to say, the two wins against LBSU were a step in the right direction.
“These were definitely big wins for us,” Sawyer said. “We were kind of in a rut, and this weekend things just sort of came together. We have a rivalry with that team, so it is always nice to take two off of Long Beach.”
UCSB will be back in action Wednesday at 1 p.m. against Riverside.