The UCSB softball team was just starting to hit its stride.
The Gauchos had won four straight games, something they have done only one other time this season, and the team was beginning to figure out how to make crucial offensive plays needed to win games.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, just as they were beginning to start to run instead of walk, they ran into a brick wall that goes by the name of Cal State Fullerton. #9 Cal State Fullerton to be exact. After a long three-game series, Santa Barbara was only able to come away with some pride after three straight drubbings, 8-0, 6-0, and 8-0.
“I would say [before the series started that] we knew that we were going to play the #9 team in the nation,” sophomore pitcher Sylvia Santos said. “We knew that we were going to play a tough team and we tried to be at our best, but it wasn’t good enough.”
In Saturday’s first game, Titan pitcher Jodie Cox tossed a three-hitter and struck out five batters en route to her 17th win of the year. Fullerton was hot swinging their bats as well. Jenny Topping and Yasmin Mossandehi both hit home runs for Fullerton, their 11th and 12th bombs of the season, respectively. The Gauchos could not even muster one extra base hit all game.
The nightcap wasn’t much different for either team, but this time the Titans attacked UCSB with hurler Christy Robitaille, who threw a three-hitter and struck out six. Again it was Topping and Mossandehi smacking balls over the outfield fence for Fullerton, providing all the offense that they would need.
“Both [Cox and Robitaille] are great pitchers,” freshman pitcher Katie Junge said after the games. “We have pitchers that throw those pitches and we have seen pitches like that in games before, but it just seemed like we had a really tough time hitting them.”
With Saturday’s double-header disappointment behind them, the Gauchos looked to get back on track with a win on Sunday. However, the Gauchos couldn’t make contact at the plate; a hot day in the valley was made even more unbearable when the Titans turned up a heat of their own, sending UCSB packing with their third-straight shutout.
Fullerton dominated Santa Barbara all weekend in the two aspects of softball that are most important: pitching and hitting. The Titans surrendered only nine hits all weekend long, and only one Gaucho hitter got an extra base hit all series.
But it was clearly Fullerton’s offensive firepower that stole the show. Fullerton hit five home runs in three games, many of which were tape measure material. Mossandehi hit a home run that one fan speculated, had it not hit the top of a light post, would have traveled about 400 feet.
Although this weekend’s road trip did not have the favorable outcome that the Gauchos had hoped for, this upcoming weekend’s trip to Utah could help boost UCSB’s confidence. Santa Barbara will square off for a three-game series against Utah State, a team the Gauchos dominated back on March 3 as they rode away with a 3-1 win.
“We have beaten them before and so I think we will have an advantage,” Junge said of their coming match-up with Utah State. “We will be more motivated. We have young players and are starting to come together. We are definitely going to get a lot better.”