If there was a specific time in the season for a team to catch fire, the UCSB softball team (24-24, 6-2) chose the right time to do it. Winning four-straight games and eight of their last ten matches, the Gauchos will host Cal Poly (15-23, 3-6) this weekend, in a three-game series in part of the Big West’s softball rivalry week.
Coming off two wins against #12 Fresno State, the team appears prepared to take on a Cal Poly team that is looking for their way this season. Recently, the Gaucho offense has built momentum, scoring runs seemingly at will and winning games with high run totals. The players do not feel they are doing anything different from earlier in the season. It has just been the experience of every successive game this season that has helped them improve their skills at the plate.
“I think everyone has been taking their hacks lately, it’s just been everyone has seemed to be more focused and prepared,” senior center fielder Davis Beck said. “The more games that we play, our hitting seems to be getting better.”
As of late, the emergence of freshman catcher Shelby Hensler has helped the Gauchos in all aspects of their game. Hensler is not only an excellent defensive force, but she has also emerged as one of the top five hitters in the Big West with a .272 average on the season. Another addition to the offensive explosion is junior pitcher Lindsey Herrin, who helped herself out in tremendous fashion yesterday by doubling in the tying and winning run in yesterday’s 5-4 comeback win over Fresno State. The Gauchos feel their firepower will carry over to this weekend’s series.
“I feel we can beat Cal Poly because of the way we are playing lately,” Beck said. “In the past Cal Poly has always been a good team, but we seem to be able to compete with them pretty well and usually win games.”
Cal Poly and the Gauchos faced each other earlier in the season at the Cal Poly Mustang Round Up, in which UCSB took the victory 2-0. It was just the Gauchos ninth game of the season, and the team feels it has improved drastically since then in all aspects of the game.
Santa Barbara will need to be wary of Cal Poly senior second basemen Roni Sparrey, who is averaging .375 this season with 15 RBIs to lead the team. The Mustangs are coming off a 2-1 weekend against Utah State University and need wins this weekend to stay afloat in the Big West.
“We have played Cal Poly before and we know we can beat them,” said Beck. “We just need to get out there and play hard.”