After following up last weekend’s sweep of UC Riverside with a sweep of Centenary College during a doubleheader on Tuesday, it’s official: The UC Santa Barbara softball team has hit its stride and will be a factor in the Big West Conference this season.
Santa Barbara stands at 29-14 overall after dismissing Centenary without giving up a run. Senior ace pitcher Loren Thornburg and freshman Carly Harmon present Santa Barbara with a strong one-two punch on the rubber. Now it appears that the Gaucho lineup is also in a groove. UCSB is one of the most well-rounded teams on the West Coast, and its goals of finishing in the conference’s top two and making it to regionals are certainly within its grasp.
Leading the way all season for the Santa Barbara offense has been senior catcher Jami Trinidad. Trinidad went 4-for-6 in Tuesday’s sweep, driving in the game-winning run in both games. While the Gauchos have other stout hitters in their lineup such as junior infielder E.J. Lauchland and senior Chantal Pershing, Trinidad has been the rock in the middle of Santa Barbara’s lineup.
“My role is to get RBIs and to hit the ball hard,” Trinidad said. “But there’s no pressure because we have a lot of other girls who can do the job.”
Trinidad, who leads the Gauchos with three home runs, is also one of the team leaders behind the plate, calling games for aces Thornburg and Harmon.
“I call every game I catch,” Trinidad said. “I’ve caught Loren for four years, and I definitely think we have a good relationship. Obviously I don’t know Carly as well, but I enjoy my role helping out the pitchers.”
Trinidad says that everyone has been enjoying themselves more since Head Coach Kristy Schroeder was hired before the start of last season.
“Schroeder’s had a good record wherever she’s gone. It just seemed like everyone started having a lot more fun when she got here, which coincided with more wins,” Trinidad said. “I don’t know which came first, the enjoyment or the wins. Now this is her second year, and our goal is going to regionals, definitely. We’ve got the ballclub to do it. We’ve started getting over the hump. It’s doing the little things – not making mental mistakes. It’ll show this weekend.”
Although freshman stars like second baseman Karyna Wilkerson have come on strong as of late, the Gauchos will need the leadership and skill of their veterans in their upcoming series this weekend at Cal Poly. At 4-4 in the Big West, it is not too late for Santa Barbara to assert itself in the conference.