With four big wins this past weekend, the UCSB softball team is beginning to earn the respect that it feels it deserves on the national level. But if the team has a chance to realize its goals and go further than any other softball team in school history, it will require leadership from the seniors, and the Gauchos certainly received that this past weekend.
Santa Barbara swept all four games at home this weekend against University of Nevada, Reno and St. Mary’s in California. The Gauchos (19-7, 0-0 in the Big West) received superb pitching in all four games from senior pitcher Loren Thornburg and freshman pitcher Carly Harmon, who pitched two games apiece. Senior slugger Jami Trinidad and sophomore infielder Katie Oliver provided the offensive spark for UCSB.
Thornburg was dominant for Santa Barbara in her two outings, pitching 13 scoreless innings and giving up just three hits and two walks while recording two victories. Harmon was nearly as impressive, winning two games and giving up two runs in 14 innings.
After the game, Harmon praised Thornburg’s virtues. “Loren’s pitching great,” she said. “And she’s a great person for me to look to [as a pitcher]. Really, with all of our seniors I couldn’t ask for a better situation; they all lead by example.”
After Thornburg’s 3-0 masterpiece and Harmon’s strong 3-1 victory against Nevada on Saturday, the Gauchos throttled St. Mary’s 8-0 in Sunday’s opener. Oliver shined for the Gauchos by belting a three-run home run along with a double to the gap that cleared the bases. However, the second game of the afternoon was more of a nail-biter.
With UCSB and Harmon staked to a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, junior outfielder Leslie Simien led off the Gaucho half by beating out a groundball to the shortstop. She advanced to second base and with two outs Trinidad roped a double into the gap to give the Gauchos a vital insurance run and cap off Trinidad’s stellar weekend.
Trinidad went 7-for-12 on the weekend with five RBI. Her last RBI was perhaps the most crucial as Nevada slugger Jennifer Arnold homered off of Harmon in the sixth to cut the lead to 2-1. But Harmon’s arm held up the rest of the way to run her record to 9-3 on the year.
Thornburg and Trinidad next lead Santa Barbara into battle on March 12 when they face University of San Diego at home in a doubleheader.