Second place isn’t that bad.
With the majority of the UCSB softball team listed as underclassmen and just 16 games into its young season, the Gauchos (10-6) felt confident with their second-place finish at the San Diego State University Tournament this weekend.
Santa Barbara went 3-2 over the weekend and was only inches away from first place. The Gauchos ended up losing to #21 Oklahoma State, and the Cowgirls took home the tournament title.
The tournament consisted of quality teams with consistently strong softball programs, including Oklahoma State, SDSU and Mississippi State.
UCSB’s first of its four games was against Mississippi State, who is very strong at the plate and also has a tremendous pitching staff. Freshman pitcher Jennifer Davis started off the contest, pitching in full domination for the first 4 1/3 innings, but ran into trouble after that. The Bulldogs opened with a two-run rally and ended the game scoring six runs, serving the Gauchos a first-game loss by a score of 6-3.
Game number two looked like the Gauchos were continuing their poor play, when Oklahoma State ran off three runs in the top of the first inning. The Gauchos answered, though, as freshman second baseman Brittany Putich scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to just two runs. The Gauchos kept pace, and freshman shortstop Kendra Singley finished the contest with a game-winning home run that gave the Gauchos a 4-3 victory over Oklahoma State.
The third and fourth games were both successful for the Gauchos as they topped both SDSU and Mississippi State. The SDSU game was a nail-biter as the game went into extra innings, when senior left fielder Davis Beck hit a home run to end the game 1-0. The Mississippi State game followed with a victory as well, as the Gauchos were finally looking like a powerful club, winning 5-2.
The final game was for first place of the SDSU Tournament, and it featured Santa Barbara against the powerful Oklahoma State in a rematch of the dramatic finish earlier in the tourney. Although the Gauchos slipped past OSU in game one, the Cowgirls were not going to go down easily. Behind 3-0 in the top of the fifth, Beck generated some offense with a tipple to right center, eventually scoring on senior right fielder Leslie Simien’s sacrifice fly. The Gauchos couldn’t score a run in the top of the seventh and hoped the defense could hold so they would get another chance at the plate. But the Cowgirls scored in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Gauchos 4-3 and give the Gauchos second place in the tournament.
The Gauchos will play Brigham Young University at Elings Park in Santa Barbara on Thursday at 2 p.m.