The UCSB softball team looks to build on its winning streak this weekend when Cal Poly comes to town for a three-game series.
“We’re looking to play off from last weekend,” junior catcher Jami Trinidad said. “Our pitchers have been playing really well. We just got to keep our intensity up. When we do that, I think we can beat anybody.”
The Gauchos (15-24 overall, 2-4 in the Big West) are looking to continue playing their best softball since they began the season 4-1 to secure the Early Bird Invitational Tournament title, winning four of their last five games.
Santa Barbara won four of six games in its most recent surge. UCSB swept the two games against USD posting shutouts in both games with scores of 6-0 and 3-0. The Gauchos then went on to win two of the three game series against Cal State Northridge.
Junior hurler Loren Thornburg has been the catalyst for Santa Barbara’s recent success. Thornburg won three of four games. The right-hander allowed just two earned runs in 28 innings pitched while giving up only 13 hits and striking out 26.
Junior outfielders Natalie Adame and Ashley Groefsema have also been getting it done in the batter’s box, compiling 12 Gaucho hits in Santa Barbara’s latest winning streak. Adame’s .375 average over the past six games was tops on the squad, while Groefsema’s four runs scored and three stolen bases paced the team. The two will look to continue their offensive fire going into this weekend’s face off.
“It’s important for us to go out and focus,” Groefsema said. “We can definitely take all three games from them if we are on our game. We just have to play to win.”
The Mustangs (18-15 overall, 3-6) roll in with hopes in changing their luck after a three-game slump at the hands of No. 19 Pacific.
Mustangs senior infielder Kasey Poet and junior infielder Holly Ballard are both on their way to stellar offensive seasons, and will look to bring their ‘A’ game against their central coast rival. Poet is hitting a team leading .324 while posting 35 hits with 12 doubles. Ballard is not far behind with a .314 average, knocking 32 hits with a .412 on-base percentage.
The Gauchos kick off the weekend against the Mustangs with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at noon. UCSB rounds the weekend off the following day with game three beginning at noon as well.
“We are starting to peak,” Groefsema said. “We lost to them early in the season, but we have improved so much since then.”