The UCSB softball team was so close it could nearly taste victory.
The Gauchos were looking to send their seniors off in a blaze of glory while the team headed into the final home game of the season.
Santa Barbara nearly pulled off the upset in the third game of the series against No. 9 Fullerton. After losing both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader 10-1 and 7-6, Santa Barbara was going on all cylinders in the finale.
They just couldn’t seem to find an answer to one Titan in particular: senior outfielder Yasmin Mossadeghi.
Both squads put one run on the board in the first inning of play. Then Santa Barbara found an unlikely source to pelt one over the left-field fence in the fifth inning.
Junior third baseman Chantal Pershing launched the first homer of her Gaucho career on Titan junior Gina Oaks’ first pitch of the inning to propel her squad to a 2-1 lead. The righty pumped her fists in celebration on her away around the bags for her hit that could not have come at a better time.
The fifth inning was a good one for another Gaucho, sophomore right fielder Leslie Simien. Simien stole her second base of the afternoon to bring her season total to 37, which ties the Big West record that New Mexico State’s Andrea Benford set in 1996.
Santa Barbara’s lead did not last very long, as Mossadeghi went to work at the plate.
Mossadeghi went the distance on junior Gaucho hurler Loren Thornburg’s first serving of the sixth inning. She sent a towering shot over both outfield fences to tie the game at 2-2.
In the top of the seventh, it looked like Mossadeghi had done it again as the ball sailed back toward the left-field fence. Santa Barbara’s Simien had other ideas as she made the catch to rob Mossadeghi of her second dinger of the game.
Though Simien saved her squad against the homer, neither she nor the rest of the Gauchos could have prevented Titan pinch runner Brittany Ziegler from tagging up and scoring from third on the Mossadeghi bomb. The Titans eventually won the game, 3-2.
Saturday’s series opener was a performance the Gauchos wouldn’t mind forgetting about, falling 10-1. But if Santa Barbara took a step back in that game, they took five steps forward in the following two games making the nationally ranked Titans work hard to earn the wins.
Game two of the series turned into a nail-biter. It looked like the game was over when Titan outfielder Jodie Cox hit a two-out grand slam to move her club to a 7-3 lead.
But the Gauchos chipped away at the lead by scoring three runs of their own in the bottom half of the sixth inning to make it a one-run game, but Cox’s antics were too much for the Gauchos to overcome as they took the 7-6 loss.