Every team goes through a gut check at some point in the course of a grueling season. The true test of character and ability is how the team responds to these hardships.
That point has arrived for the UCSB softball team.
The Gauchos lost two out of three games this weekend at Pacific in agonizingly frustrating fashion. Santa Barbara lost a 15-inning marathon 5-4 on Saturday, then slipped during the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader in 14 innings by the same score. UCSB won Sunday’s first game 2-1.
Santa Barbara (25-14, 2-4 in the Big West) scored two runs in the top of the 15th inning Saturday to take a 6-4 lead, only to watch the Tigers rally for three runs against senior pitcher Loren Thornburg for a 7-6 victory.
Although Santa Barbara did lose two out of three games in 29 hard fought innings of softball, there were plenty of bright spots. Senior catcher Jami Trinidad hit her second and third home runs of the season. Trinidad’s two-run homer put the Gauchos up 4-0 in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game. On Sunday, she followed a home run by senior first baseman Sarah Brown with her second long shot of the series to put the Gauchos up 4-3 in the fifth inning of game two.
Santa Barbara received solid pitching efforts from its dynamic pitching duo: Thornburg and freshman Carly Harmon. In Friday’s 15-inning matchup, Thornburg went the distance for the Gauchos, pitching 14 and two-thirds innings while giving up just one earned run.
Harmon lived up to the standard set by her mentor by pitching every inning of Sunday’s doubleheader. Harmon went seven innings, giving up only one run on three hits in the opening game of the doubleheader.
UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder went back to the rookie in the second game. Harmon went the distance again, giving up three earned runs in 13 and two-thirds innings in a game where she wound up the hard-luck loser.
Harmon threw a grueling 294 pitches.
UCSB has the school week to recover mentally and physically. The Gauchos will return to the field on Saturday at home against UC Riverside. Santa Barbara hopes the three-game homestand will be the beginning of a successful Big West season. At 2-4, the squad must put together a respectable winning streak to stay in contention for the conference title.
Saturday’s doubleheader starts at noon. Sunday’s game will also begin at noon.