After dropping both games of Friday’s doubleheader at Cal Poly, the UCSB softball team dramatically avoided a sweep in come-from-behind fashion Saturday 4-3.
Santa Barbara lost the first two games 6-1 and 2-0.
Determined to salvage something out of an otherwise frustrating weekend, the Gauchos scored three runs in the top of the sixth to erase the Mustangs’ 3-1 lead.
Junior outfielder E.J. Lauchland instigated the rally with an infield single to third base. Lauchland, who normally plays at second base, scored after senior catcher Jami Trinidad’s walk and a Cal Poly throwing error on freshman shortstop Kim Iversen’s sacrifice bunt to bring Santa Barbara within one.
“Once we got that run, we kind of felt like we got the monkey off our back and the team got fired up,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “We were a different team after that.”
Senior first baseman Sarah Brown walked to load the bases for freshman second baseman Karyna Wilkerson. Wilkerson singled to left-center to tie the game. Senior outfielder Natalie Adame then drove Iversen home with a sacrifice fly to deep center for the go-ahead run.
Freshman pitcher Carly Harmon (15-6) picked up the win after coming in relief for senior Loren Thornburg in the third inning to give the Mustangs a different look.
For a team trying to establish itself as a legitimate contender in the Big West though, losing two of three to a sixth place Mustang squad that entered the series reeling from a seven-game losing streak was a disappointment.
“It was nice to end on a good note but it was a very disappointing weekend,” UCSB Assistant Coach Kristy Bredbenner said. “We made a lot of errors and we just played poorly all-around.”
The Gauchos could only manage one run in two games Friday against a pitching staff with a combined ERA of 3.63. UCSB boasts an ERA of 1.33.
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for us, and everything that could have gone right for them went right,” Bredbenner said. “They played incredible defense and they’re the worst defensive team in the Big West.”
In the first game, Thornburg and junior Katie Junge allowed three runs apiece, all earned.
“Things just didn’t really happen for us,” Thornburg said. “There were a lot of factors [in the losses], but you just have to adapt to those and take it upon yourself to get it done.”
In game two, Cal Poly freshman designated hitter Shannon Brooks broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a single off Harmon to score sophomore shortstop Chelsy Stoufer. Stoufer had reached base on an error. The Mustangs (19-30 overall, 5-7 in the Big West) added to the lead in the sixth, when senior catcher Carrie Schubert singled home pinch runner and junior utility Stephanie Payan to make the score 2-0.
The Gauchos will have the week off before traveling to Utah on Friday for a doubleheader and will resume Big West play Saturday and Sunday against Utah State.
At this point in the season, the Gauchos have little leeway if they are going to make a serious run for regionals.
“If we get fired up like we did Saturday, I think that will be the difference for us down the stretch,” Schroeder said.