The Gauchos fell prey to the #1 UCLA but they have nothing to hang their heads over.
The UCSB softball team dropped a doubleheader to the Bruins at Campus Diamond, 6-0 and 2-0 while UCLA won its 16th and 17th straight games.
The Gauchos failed to score for the second and third consecutive games but demonstrated that they can compete with the best.
“Now we know we can play with anybody. That’s the number one team in the nation and if we had a few more breaks we would have won that last game,” senior left fielder Ashley Groefsema said. “It didn’t happen today but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen later on.”
UCLA shelled senior pitcher Loren Thornburg (7-4) in the first game with efficient hitting and well-placed bloopers. The Bruins (17-1 overall) scored the only run they would need in the first inning and never looked back behind the arm of junior pitcher Keira Goerl who tossed her fourth consecutive shutout. Senior shortstop Natasha Watley increased the Bruin lead to five with a two-run home run. Junior second baseman E.J. Lauchland managed two hits but was the only Gaucho to hit Goerl.
“We knew we were gonna have two tough ones today but I think our ball club has been playing pretty well. I mean, the first game was the worst we’ve lost all year,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “I thought Loren pitched a good game but they got a lot of bloop hits to get on base so I still think she did a nice job regardless of the score.”
In the second game, UCSB (15-7) kept pressure on the top team in the land until the final out. Freshman pitcher Carly Harmon battled UCLA stud freshman pitcher Michelle Turner to a stalemate until the fifth inning when freshman catcher Emily Zaplatosch singled in teammate junior outfielder Amanda Simpson for the eventual winning run.
“I was really happy that we were able to compete with the number one team in the country,” Schroeder said. “We know what we have to deal with now.”
Santa Barbara had chances to score throughout the game. In the second inning, a diving snag up the middle by UCLA second baseman Monique Mejia and a knocked-down screaming line drive up the middle thwarted a Gaucho rally. In the third, UCSB had runners on second and third with one out but came up empty.
“We’ve faced some tough pitchers in the last couple of games and we’ve had runners on base but we just haven’t been able to get them across the plate but it will come,” UCSB Assistant Coach Kristy Bredbenner said. “We’re just going through a little dry spell and we’ll just work through it.”