The UCSB softball team could not find much offense this weekend against the steady Long Beach State pitching staff, dropping two of its three games to the 49ers in Long Beach
The Gauchos came out of the blocks a step slow defensively to start off the series, and were plagued with three errors in the opening game. Even with the mishaps in the field, Santa Barbara refused to go down without a fight, taking the game into extra innings with a 1-1 tie.
In Long Beach’s half of the ninth inning, 49er sophomore Cassie Preece hit a shot down the left field line. Preece’s hit gave the pinch runner enough time to make it around from second to score the winning run.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Gauchos cleaned up their play defensively. Senior shortstop Julia Tamai stepped up for Santa Barbara offensively again after being the only player on either team to tag two hits in the first game.
Tamai’s shining moment in game two occurred in the top of the fourth. Long Beach’s starting pitcher, Lindsay Knoff, tried to go inside to Tamai. Tamai was ready for the inside look and she launched the ball over the outfield fence for a two-run homer. The long ball was Tamai’s first of the season, but it could not have come at a better time.
Neither Santa Barbara nor Long Beach could put another run on the board, and the Gauchos stood their ground for a 2-0 win.
The low-scoring contests continued on Sunday, as a battle of the defenses took place. Both pitchers, UCSB’s junior Loren Thornburg and LBSU’s freshman hurler Meredith Cervenka, threw good games. Thornburg allowed only three hits and Cervenka allowed one, but the ball was put in play a lot, challenging both teams’ defenses.
Thornburg found herself in a jam in the seventh inning. LBSU’s sophomore catcher Arleigh Thorp led the inning off with a single, and then made it to second on a sacrifice. Thornburg surrendered a walk before a Santa Barbara error loaded the bases for the bat of senior outfielder Jessica Smith. Smith ripped a single to score Thorp in what proved to be the game-winner.
Junior infielder Chantal Pershing accounted for Santa Barbara’s lone hit of the ball game, a lead-off single to start out the third inning.
Long Beach is now 32-17 on the season and 10-5 in Big West play after the weekend. The 49ers are riding the arm of Cervenka, their freshman star who came through big again. Cervenka finished the weekend with two wins in as many tries and owns an overall record of 19-4.
In the first game she allowed just four hits and one run, while striking out five Gauchos. Her second-game statistics were not quite as impressive, as she struck out two while allowing four walks and hitting two batters, but her performance was enough to get it done as her team walked away with the 1-0 win.
UCSB takes its game on the road again this week with a northern California swing as the squad faces Stanford on Tuesday and St. Mary’s on Wednesday before heading back down south for a weekend series at Riverside.