You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
This past weekend, the UCSB softball team wanted to impress the Big West Conference. The Gauchos won two of their three games at Cal State Northridge and improved their record to 18-23, 2-1 against a difficult Matador team, which fell to 20-12, 1-2 after the tripleheader at Matador Diamond to kick off their conference season.
In game three, junior pitcher Lindsey Herrin drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as she led the Gauchos to a 2-1 win. Herrin wasn’t just a star at the plate, she also went the distance on the mound as she commanded and dictated the pace of the game through her pitching. UCSB got on the board when freshman infielder Jennifer Davis scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Shelby Hensler.
“Herrin throws strikes and that is what we need,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “She wants to be out there and I want to put the players who want to win out on the field.”
In game one of the tripleheader the Gauchos played like they left their talent on the bus. The Matadors got on the board in the second inning with two quick runs, and the Matadors were just getting started. Matador senior center fielder Christen Bedwell added two more to the score with a home run in the third.
The Gauchos avoided the mercy rule when Herrin led off the fifth inning with a home run to left-center. Hensler made it 8-2 when she lined in a quick run. The Matadors then rallied for six more runs to beat the Gauchos 10-3.
In a game when the team wanted to continue their strong hitting, Schroeder wasn’t happy with the bats in game one.
“First, we need strong hitting and then defense to follow that up,” Schroeder said. “We have been struggling a little and need to turn some things around. We finished on a good note during Spring Break facing Portland State, but I just think that winning just depends on weather or not everyone shows up to play and is ready.”
When UCSB could have thrown it all away, they regrouped and came out in game two with a sense of urgency, not allowing the day to end without a win. After a quick Matador run, the Gauchos tied up the game at one with a run in the seventh when senior right fielder Leslie Simien laid down a remarkable bunt to chip in Davis. UCSB then rallied off three more runs in the 10th inning when freshman second baseman Brittany Putich smashed her first home run of the season, scoring Herrin and freshman infielder Kendra Singley ahead of her, as the Gauchos beat the Matadors 4-1. The key to the UCSB win was defense as the Matadors had numerous chances to win the game, stranding 13 runners on base throughout the game.
“When we were down four runs in the first Portland State game and nobody gave up and everybody continued to work hard,” Schroeder said. “I think if we are playing as well as last Saturday and we keep this up, we can do well in conference.”