What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
At least that’s what the UCSB softball team hopes after going 1-4 at the Red Desert Classic in Utah last weekend.
The good news for the Gauchos is that they have matched up against some of the toughest competition in the country. Santa Barbara has faced three nationally ranked opponents from the Pacific Ten Conference in Stanford, Berkeley, and Washington, and has knocked heads with national powerhouses Fresno State and Michigan.
“We are playing a lot of good teams right now,” junior outfielder Ashley Groefsema said. “A lot of them are nationally ranked and it’s been tough because nobody likes losing. But we just focus on what we are doing, and try to make ourselves better, and know that these games will help prepare us for later.”
UCSB suffered a slow start and a sluggish finish in St. George this weekend, opening the tourney with an 8-0 loss to Utah. The Gauchos closed the weekend with their worst defeat of the season, a 15-5 loss to No. 17 Washington.
The Gauchos showed some positive signs of fight in the middle games of the tourney.
Santa Barbara found itself down 3-2 in the sixth inning of play against BYU. Junior catcher Jami Trinidad took matters into her own hands with a solo home run for a 3-3 tie. After a scoreless seventh, the Cougars went on to win the game in the first extra inning when freshman second baseman Milli Jones stroked a single to score the runner on second.
“That game [against BYU] was obviously pretty disappointing for us because we were so close and we definitely had our chances,” junior outfielder Natalie Adame said.
In the first game of the day two doubleheader, Santa Barbara went the distance nailing a 5-4 victory over UNLV. Senior catcher Stacy Bolton opened up the scoring in the second with the first of two Gaucho homers in the game. Adame knocked another out in the sixth.
Groefsema scored two runs and recorded two stolen bases in her first game as the Gaucho lead-off hitter against the Rebels. Trinidad showed her offensive spunk with three hits for two RBIs.
“I started off the season pretty well,” Trinidad said about her offensive output. “I’m definitely more confident in my hitting this year, and I try to focus on every at bat rather than the overall statistics. I’m having more fun out there, and it’s easier to perform when you are having fun.”
The second game of Saturday’s double dip was looking good for UCSB in their match-up against No. 7 Stanford. UCSB went on a tear in the third inning when junior infielder Chantal Pershing knocked in two runs. Adame rounded out the scoring in the inning with a base hit that drove in the third run. The Cardinal rallied back in the next few innings, strutting away with the 10-3 win.