The 2003 season has been memorable for the UCSB softball team. Tying a school record with 34 wins, they needed just one more to etch their place in history on Sunday. With rain giving the Gauchos an extra day to prepare, UCSB squandered both chances on Senior Day and dropped a doubleheader to Long Beach State.
LBSU needed only one run as sophomore righty Meredith Cervenka tossed a no-hitter against Santa Barbara in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Cervenka faced just one batter over the minimum 18, allowing only a walk. Two-time Big West Player of the Week Cervenka has won nine straight decisions and lowered her ERA to 1.33.
“Meredith’s been pitching very well lately, she’s really hot right now,” Long Beach State Head Coach Pete Manarino said. “To be able to do that against such a good-hitting team, I’m just very proud of the performance she had.”
The Gauchos were thwarted again in the latter half of the doubleheader on a two run homerun by junior left fielder Arleigh Thorp in the top half of the sixth inning to fall 2-1.
“Those were two very tough, tough losses,” senior catcher Jami Trinidad said. “In the second game we played really well, we got eight hits. Things didn’t go our way I guess. It sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Gauchos were on the verge of winning the most games in school history on Sunday. Freshman Carly Harmon (17-8) also missed her chance of becoming UCSB’s all-time single season leader in wins. In the first game UCSB clung to a 1-0 lead going into the top of the sixth when disaster struck. After sophomore center fielder Lauren Johnson started the rally with a bloop single, Thorpe belted Harmon’s fastball over the center field wall to put the 49ers up for good.
“You miss every once in a while,” Harmon said. “You hate to miss to their number three and four batters because you want the other hitters to beat you, but we had plenty of opportunities to score another run. You can’t put it on the pitcher’s shoulders.”
Trinidad was responsible for the sole RBI of the day for the Gauchos (34-19 overall, 9-8 Big West) during the second game. In the bottom of the first, junior outfielder Leslie Simien bunted and reached base after a 49er throwing error to start the inning. Simein was bunted over to second on senior third baseman Chantal Pershing’s sacrifice bunt. Trinidad batted in Simien with a double to right-center to give the Gauchos the early lead.
The 49ers (23-17 overall, 11-3 Big West) refused to pitch to Trinidad and opted to face sophomore designated hitter Kristen Mann and senior outfielder Sarah Brown. The decision paid off twice, once in the bottom of the fifth and again in the bottom of the seventh. With Simien on third and another runner on base each time, 49er pitcher Lindsey Knoff forced Mann to ground out twice and made Brown ground out and strikeout, respectively, to end both innings.
“It was just unfortunate that we didn’t get the hits when we needed them. We left more runners in scoring position and we just couldn’t capitalize,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “Jami’s been hot for us and they were smart for walking her so she couldn’t do any damage. I was happier with our performance in the second game, we gave ourselves a chance to win and that’s all that I’m asking from the team.”
The 49ers scored the lone run of the game in the top of the first. Thorpe doubled in junior first baseman Colleen Burdick for the first inning, game-winning RBI.