From here on out, there is no more room for error.
In a tough division where two teams will likely make regionals, the UCSB softball team (25-26, 7-4) will have to get through Utah State (7-35, 3-9). The Utah women may look like a mice on paper, but they will play like monsters on the field to finish at the top.
Coming off two disappointing losses to Cal Poly last weekend, the Gauchos look to rebound their otherwise impressive season and turn the train in the right direction. Though the team has been on a tear, they only produced one run and nine hits in Sunday’s loss.
“Our pitchers have been pitching extremely well, but on Sunday we had a ton of walks, hit batters – which didn’t make things easier last weekend – and we didn’t get our runs,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “We didn’t hit the ball like we have been hitting it in the past. Once a team doesn’t get hits for a while they start to press, making it even harder to hit the ball in the first place, which hurt our run production.”
Though Utah State poses a weak record, the team is capable of beating quality teams as they have shown earlier in this season. The Gauchos will face the Aggies this weekend in a three-game series at Campus Diamond.
Early in the Big West season, the Aggies surprised everyone when they swept Cal State Fullerton in three games. The wins shows how streaky Utah State can be, and the Gauchos need to play their best softball to secure three wins this weekend.
“I think we can beat anybody in our conference; it’s just a matter of what team shows up,” Schroeder said. “Utah State has surprised some people early on as they swept Fullerton. We should beat them but right now you cannot take anyone for granted.”
The problem that has plagued the Gauchos this season is their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-style of play, having either a dominating team on the field or a team that does not really show up at all. Sometimes Santa Barbara will come through with enormous offense and pitching talents, and other times, the team does not score any runs during the entire game.
“We have to bring our best team every time we go out there,” Schroeder said. “If we don’t do that, we are going to get bit. Every game is extremely important and even with our best players out there it doesn’t guarantee a win.”
The Gauchos currently pose a record of 7-4 in the Big West Conference, which is good enough for fourth place behind 8-4 Cal State Northridge (8-4 in the Big West). Topping off the Big West is Long Beach State at 10-2 and 9-3 University of the Pacific. UCSB has one make-up game that will be rescheduled if necessary against UC Riverside. The team needs to look ahead to their chances at making regionals.
“We need to put these games behind us and just look at the future,” freshman left-fielder Jessica Hejna said. “We can’t go back on what happened [Sunday], and we need to put this in the past. We need to improve on better selection at bat and narrowing down the walks.”