After downing Riverside in three straight contests, the UCSB softball team finds itself riding a five-game winning streak.
Santa Barbara faced a tough Stanford squad last Tuesday in Palo Alto, and lost both games of the doubleheader. The Gauchos then came back strong the following day by taking two from St. Mary’s.
UCSB did not look back, sweeping the Highlanders 5-0, 4-1 and 1-0 with Saturday’s doubleheader at Campus Diamond and Sunday’s game at Riverside.
Santa Barbara (23-29 overall, 8-7 in the Big West) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, lighting up UCR starter Monique Baeza for four runs in the first inning. Baeza did not return for the second after giving up two runs, her team stumbling for two errors in the opening inning.
Baeza’s replacement, Janell Jackson, had a little better luck handling the Gauchos, allowing one hit. Jackson struggled with control, surrendering seven walks and, in the fifth, nailing Gaucho batter junior outfielder Natalie Adame with the bases loaded for the final score 5-0.
Sophomore pitcher Katie Junge posted the shutout for the Gauchos, giving up only six hits while striking out three improving her record to 10-10.
The Gauchos happened to be in the right place at the right time in the second game of Saturday’s double dip, capitalizing on three Highlander errors.
The two squads went head to head in the first five innings with neither club being able to get a run across the plate. That all changed for UCSB in the sixth when senior shortstop Julia Tamai put the Gauchos on the scoreboard with an RBI single. An error later in the inning translated into another run.
The Highlanders put a dent in the scoreboard by notching a run in their half of the sixth, but saw their hopes of an upset dwindle in the top of the seventh when Santa Barbara’s offense capitalized on two Riverside errors to score two more runs.
Saturday went well for all the Gauchos, as they collected two Big West victories, but sophomore outfielder Leslie Simien shined for UCSB.
On first base in the first inning of the first game, Simien did something she has been doing all season long: She stole second base and recorded her 30th stolen base of the season to break UCSB’s single record of 29. She snagged three more bases on the afternoon to finish Saturday with 33.
Junge recorded yet another shutout on Sunday, propelling her team to a 1-0 victory and clean sweep of the Highlanders. The lone run occurred in the fifth inning when Simien scored from second on a Tamai RBI single.