A “Double Dip.” That is what they call a softball doubleheader. But don’t tell that to the UCSB women’s softball team because they think the phrase means it’s time to scoop up a pair of shutouts.
Wednesday afternoon at the Campus Diamond, the Gauchos (17-26 overall) blanked UC Riverside, 1-0 and 3-0, in a pair of pitching gems from sophomore Sylvia Santos and freshman Katie Junge.
“I think that especially since [Riverside] is moving into our conference next year, they wanted to show us that they can compete,” sophomore outfielder Ashley Groefsema said after the game. “They wanted to get a few wins under their belts against us [on Wednesday], but we just played a little bit better.”
In the day’s first game, Santos showed why she has been Santa Barbara’s ace on the mound all year long as she collected her seventh win of the season.
The Highlanders’ (11-31-1) best chance to score came in the fourth inning when they landed runners on second and third behind a pair of singles. With only one out, Santos found herself in a jam, but induced two groundouts to third that promptly ended the rally.
“I mostly throw my balls low, and I like to work the corners a lot,” Santos said of her pitching. “So those are good places to put pitches when you are in a jam. But in that situation, I just pretend that there is no one on base and let my defense do the work. They played great all day, and I always have trust in them.”
The game went all the way down to the wire as UCSB went to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning looking to break the scoreless tie. Groefsema started the game-winning play with an incredible bunt that beat the throw to first. Sophomore left fielder E.J. Lauchland walked, setting up freshman outfielder Davis Beck’s perfect sacrifice to move the runners to third and second.
Riverside pitcher Monique Baeza then loaded the bases to set up the final dramatic sequence of the game.
Freshman third baseman Nicole Everett stepped to the plate for Santa Barbara and hit a monstrous sacrifice fly to left to score Groefsema for the winning run. For Santos, it was her second victory of the year against the Highlanders.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Santos showed why she is the team’s established go-to arm. But in the nightcap, freshman Katie Junge, who played at first base in the first game, received the call for her UCSB pitching debut and did not even blink an eye.
Junge pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only one Highlander runner to reach third base all game. Equally as impressive as Junge’s debut in the circle was her performance at the plate. In helping her own cause, Junge went two for three with one RBI.
“She didn’t look nervous at all out there,” Groefsema said of Junge’s performance. “She did an awesome job and was in control the whole game.”
The afternoon, however, did not just belong to the underclassmen. Senior Teresa Tolson went one for two and drove in two runs in the second game to help put the icing on the cake.
Santa Barbara has now won four games in a row and is just starting to come together as a team.
“We have a very young team with mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Groefsema said. “We have been getting a lot better, and we are finally figuring out how to put a string of hits together.”