The UCSB softball team will be searching to find that sweet spot of the bat on its trip south to San Diego. The Gauchos head off today to the Campbell/Cartier Classic hosted by San Diego State.
Santa Barbara (6-4) has already played two tournaments and is looking forward to the improvement that more game experience should bring them.
The Gauchos started their season with a strong 4-1 start in the opening weekend to capture their own Early Bird Invitational, held at Campus Diamond. Santa Barbara defeated Loyola Marymount, Illinois-Chicago and New Mexico State twice.
The second weekend of the young season for the Gauchos was a bit of a disappointment as the squad went 2-3 at the Cal Poly Mustang Roundup Tournament in San Luis Obispo. Santa Barbara’s defense and pitching was strong for the most part in SLO, but UCSB was unable to produce a consistent offense.
“Basically we need to put our hits together,” junior outfielder Natalie Adame said. “When we have runners on base we need to capitalize on that instead of leaving them stranded.”
UCSB’s top two hurlers are consistent forces on the mound. Junior right-hander Sylvia Santos leads the team with a 2-0 overall record. Her 2.16 ERA is also top on the team, as she has given up only four runs off 14 hits in just over 16 innings played.
Junior hurler Loren Thornburg anchored the squad in the first weekend of action with a solid mark of 3-0. She has accumulated a 2.65 ERA in just over 37 innings pitched while striking out 39 batters. Offense remains the crucial element.
“This weekend we will look to make the adjustments that showed were necessary last weekend,” senior captain and second baseman Kim Sawyer said. “We really need to improve on RBIs.”
Senior infielder Julia Tamai and junior outfielder Ashley Groefsema are putting together good offensive numbers. Tamai has crossed the plate five times while compiling 11 hits in 28 at bats, good for a .393 batting average to lead the team. Meanwhile, Groefsema is posting a .391 average, collecting nine hits in 23 attempts. Her .462 on-base percentage is top on the squad.
With steady pitching and a strong defense, the Gauchos know that they can increase their offensive production from last weekend.
Santa Barbara will have its work cut out for it though. Of the five teams they take on down south, three of them are in the nation’s top 25. Today they will duke it out against No. 23 San Diego State. Saturday will get even tougher as UCSB battles No. 11 Michigan and No. 16 Fresno State. They will also face Northwestern and Florida International in the tournament.
“Our goal for this weekend is to keep our confidence up,” Adame said. “We know we are a better team than the way we performed last weekend and we want to show that in San Diego.”