The place was getting a little dusty at Campus Diamond, so the UCSB softball team (28-26 overall, 10-4 in the Big West) brought out their brooms and swept the weekend series.
Rebounding from last week’s disappointing losses against Cal Poly, the Gauchos faced Utah State (7-38, 3-12) for a matchup that was labeled a must-win series for both teams.
In game one, the Gauchos came to the field with the sour taste of last weekend’s loss in their mouths. Santa Barbara knocked the door down, opening with a 4-0 lead to start the game. Junior pitcher Lindsey Herrin hit a three-run home run, her record-tying ninth homerun of the season, which added to the Gauchos’ fire in the first inning.
After the Aggies added two, the Gauchos continued the onslaught in the sixth when freshman shortstop Kendra Singley knocked her seventh home run of the season to give the Gauchos their 8-2 win.
“I think we have been focusing on having better at-bats and hitting the ball up the middle,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “That got away from us last week and I think we have had success hitting the ball hard. Finally we have believed in ourselves a little bit more and it’s finally coming out on the field. We have been focusing more on hitting as of late, and we have been a team all season long that has really strived to do well at the plate.”
In game two, the Gauchos saw a magnificent performance by freshman pitcher Jennifer Davis, who notched 16 strikeouts through the entire game, pitching her way to a shutout and improving her record to 11-13 on the season.
The only pitch Utah State could handle was a single knocked in by senior shortstop Haven Vance. The Gauchos scored again early when Singley bunted in the speedy senior Leslie Simien. But it was Davis’ command and ball placement that led UCSB to the Gauchos’ 2-0 victory.
“Jennifer is a great pitcher and she really had her stuff going on Saturday,” freshman left fielder Jessica Hejna said. “When she pitches a game and strikes out 16, it makes our jobs in the field a lot easier.”
Both teams worked overtime in the 16-inning third game. An error saved UCSB in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs. A Singley run knotted the game at one after a routine pop fly to second base hit by freshman center fielder Blair Robbins was dropped. The Gauchos finally pulled through and scored off freshman second baseman Brittany Putich’s single to take their third game 2-1.
“We just couldn’t hit the ball in game three,” said Hejna. “After awhile I think frustration set in a little, but I am glad we were the ones to come through and get the win today.”
Next, Santa Barbara will face UC Riverside on Tuesday in a makeup game that was previously rained out.