The Gauchos started Big West play over the weekend with a win against Cal State Northridge but ended up falling flat on their faces.
After taking the first game 3-1, the UCSB softball team stalled in the next two games 6-0 and 1-0 at Northridge.
“It was pretty disappointing,” senior catcher Jami Trinidad said. “We didn’t play to our capacity this weekend.”
Behind senior pitcher Loren Thornburg, the Gauchos (24-12 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) surrendered just one run to the Matadors (16-14, 2-1) en route to the game one victory.
Sophomore third baseman Katie Oliver hit well at the plate for Santa Barbara in the win with a one-out ground-rule double with runners on second and third to put the Gauchos up for good.
In the second game, UCSB struggled to get anything going offensively while Cal State Northridge feasted on freshman pitcher Carly Harmon (11-4) late in the game, assuring the Matadors a split on the double header.
“We’re a little behind schedule in terms of the goals we set for ourselves, but we’re just waiting to peak,” Thornburg said. “We don’t want to peak too early.”
On Sunday, the Gauchos failed to score and let another outstanding pitching performance by Thornburg (12-8) slip through the cracks. Thornburg allowed just three hits and the sole Northridge run came on an error.
“Loren pitched a great game but we had some mental errors that cost us. It was a key game,” junior second baseman E.J. Lauchland said.
The series with the Matadors came on the heels of a mediocre Spring Break for Santa Barbara. UCSB began the break splitting its first two series with Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara, then fell to #7 California.
The Gauchos won the first game against LMU 4-2 and almost stole the second game that saw six lead changes and nine innings before the Lions settled the affair, 9-7.
Thornburg split the weekend, recording a win in the first game and a loss in the second as the workhorse pitched the last four innings of the extra-inning slugfest that featured 25 hits and 16 runs.
Santa Clara came from behind to steal the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader 3-2. Santa Clara touched home twice in the bottom of the fifth to negate a solid performance by Thornburg. In the second game, UCSB struck first in the top of the sixth courtesy of a two-RBI single by freshman shortstop Kim Iversen with the bases crowded. The Gauchos added two in the seventh for security’s sake to win 4-1.
In their last tune-up before Big West play began, the Gauchos were given a lesson in longballs by one of the top teams in the nation in a 6-2 loss. The Gauchos scored twice in the first but Berkeley responded with two home runs off the bats of senior first baseman Veronica Nelson and junior second baseman Eryn Manahan.
The Gauchos will have the week off before traveling to Stockton to take on Pacific in a three-game set this weekend.