Starting a season 5-0 is a great way for any team to get its feet off the ground, but after jumping out to 9-1 after this weekend’s Cal Poly Mustang Roundup, the UCSB softball team seems to be in midseason form.

After winning all five games at the Early Bird Tournament at home last weekend, the Gauchos lost their first game of the season to Sacramento State 3-1 in the opening game of the Roundup. Santa Barbara regained its composure though and rattled off four straight games, improving its mark to 9-1 in preseason play.

In the opener on Friday, Sac State ended the Gauchos’ five-game win streak to sober up the buzzed Gauchos. Senior pitcher Loren Thornburg pitched decently for the Gauchos, allowing only two earned runs and five hits, but the Gauchos could only muster one run against Sac State ace Nicole Deathorage.

“All in all I felt good. The loss wasn’t exactly what I was going for, but sometimes losses can be good,” Thornburg said. “They keep you working hard.”

The loss evidently sparked something within Santa Barbara’s motor, as the Gauchos refused to lose the rest of the way. Later on Friday, UCSB jumped back on track with a 5-4, eight-inning win over Nevada. Winning freshman pitcher Carly Harmon worked five innings for the win and was supported heavily by senior third baseman Chantal Pershing, who roughed up the Wolfpack for two hits while senior catcher Jami Trinidad went 2-2 with two RBI.

Saturday, Pershing’s bat came alive yet again. The senior went 5-9 on the day in wins over Southern Utah University and the University of San Diego, and stole four bases in the process.

“Chantal was our money girl this weekend,” senior center fielder Natalie Adame said. “Every time she was at the plate we knew she was going to do something good.”

Against Southern Utah, Thornburg earned her third shutout of the young season, allowing just two hits in a 3-0 victory. In the second part of the doubleheader, things began to get out of hand. A spectacular offensive showcase accompanied another solid pitching performance and a Gaucho shutout. This time, Harmon was at it again on the mound and the Gauchos supported their hurler by putting up 14 runs on 19 hits.

“That [win against Southern Utah] was a lot of fun,” Thornburg said.

Every UCSB starter reached base by way of a hit at least once and all but one starter scored. Even pinch hitters Katie Oliver and Kim Iverson got in the mix as Oliver singled and Iverson tripled for the Gauchos.

“We just didn’t want to stop scoring,” junior outfielder E.J. Lauchland said.

The Roundup’s finale saw Thornburg at her best again, this time picking on Mountain West Conference’s Colorado State. Thornburg threw her second shutout of the tournament and fourth of 2003 to lead the Gauchos to a 2-0 victory. The Gauchos had a frustrating day at the plate but won the contest on a hard-fought defensive battle. Although hits were plentiful and runs scarce, Santa Barbara’s steadfast pitching did the trick.

“We hit the ball well today but we just couldn’t string any hits together,” Launchland said.

The Gauchos will take their 9-1 record into Friday’s doubleheader with Pac-10 foe Oregon State.