After seeing game one slip through its fingers, the UCSB softball team battled back to win the final two games against visiting Cal Poly this weekend.
The Gauchos took a 3-1 lead into the top half of the seventh inning in their first face-off against their central rival.
Then came the downward spiral in game one.
The Mustangs loaded the bases. A run crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice, setting the stage for Cal Poly junior infielder Holly Ballard to steal the show. Ballard sent a shot over the right-field fence to knock in three runs to and secure the 5-3 victory for her team. Ballard finished the game going 2-3, a walk, and three RBIs.
“We played well enough to win the first game; we just got a bad break,” junior outfielder Ashley Groefsema said. “We did a great job of bouncing back from the defeat to get the last two wins.”
In the second game of the double dip, the Mustangs tried to keep the ball rolling from the onset. Santa Barbara’s sophomore hurler Katie Junge found herself in a jam in the opening inning with the bases loaded. Junge kept herself cool, calm, and collected, getting out of the inning without allowing a Mustang to score.
The second inning was broken up by a 35-minute delay following a Gaucho pick-off play on Cal Poly’s Christie Wells at first base. The paramedics were summoned when Wells dislocated her elbow in the dive back. That break in action seemed to swing the momentum back in UCSB’s direction.
“Obviously, our team felt bad about her injury,” Groefsema said. “But the break seemed to help us out a bit.”
Groefsema broke the third wide open with a two-out double. Sophomore outfielder Leslie Simien then kept the rally going with a bunt single before junior catcher Jami Trinidad came to the plate to drive home Groefsema with a double to left-center.
With the game tied 2-2 in the fifth inning, Gaucho senior shortstop Julia Tamai and junior outfielder Natalie Adame took matters into their own hands. Tamai reached first with a two-out single, and then snagged second to move into scoring position. Adame drove in what would prove to be the game winner on the afternoon.
“I just tried to stay relaxed,” Adame said of her game-winning at bat. “I knew we could definitely use a hit right then.”
The series finale on Sunday turned into a pitcher’s duel. But this was a duel the Gauchos would win, as Junge collected her second win in as many tries on the weekend, claiming a 3-2 victory.
This weekend featured a number of stellar offensive performances for the Gauchos. Tamai matched Trinidad’s game-two showing, going 3-3 in the first game loss. Groefsema went 2-3 in game three, including a sacrifice bunt and two runs scored. Simien stole her 26th base of the season, finding herself just three short of the school’s single-season record.