The UCSB softball team found the worms this weekend, taking first place in the Early Bird Tournament after going 4-1 on the weekend, with its only loss coming Friday afternoon from #16 Oregon State 7-3.
“I think our bats came along well this weekend, so what we did in practice the week before really paid off,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “I think we can contend with anyone in the country, but we have to be on our “A” game and everyone has to participate. If only two people are pulling the slack then we’re not going to be able to beat teams like that, but I think this weekend everyone came out to play.”
Gaucho sophomore right-hander Jennifer Davis started things off on the right foot in Friday’s 5-0 victory over University of New Mexico, striking out almost half her batters and giving up only three hits. At the plate, Davis drove in two in the top of the third to give the Gauchos an early 4-0 lead and hit a standup double to center in the fifth, scoring sophomore second baseman Kendra Singley for UCSB’s final run of the game.
Oregon State proved to be a more formidable opponent in Friday’s second game, taking a third-inning 3-0 lead over junior hurler Carly Harmon, who was relieved in the third by sophomore Lindsey Sommer. In her first action of the season, Sommer gave up three earned runs on four hits. Beaver catcher Lisa Allen led OSU, going three for three at the plate with two RBIs and two doubles to lead her team to victory.
Santa Barbara faced Oregon State again on Saturday but ended the game victorious thanks to a stellar pitching performance by Davis and a six-run fifth inning. Allen went two for three, but Vanessa Iapala had a solo shot in the third to score Oregon State’s only run. The Gauchos spread the scoring around, with six different players coming around, but sophomore Brittany Putich led the way with three RBIs.
“It was a great weekend for us to take one from Oregon State; that’s a big win for us, especially early on, and if we can continue to do that, take some of those games that people don’t think we’re supposed to take, I think that will help us along the way,” Schroeder said.
Singley and junior third baseman Karyna Wilkerson each had two RBIs and scored one run apiece in the Gauchos’ 8-7 victory over New Mexico on Saturday.
New Mexico and UCSB faced off for the third and final time in the tourney Sunday, with Santa Barbara winning 6-4. The Gauchos took an early 4-1 lead before UNM scored three runs in the fifth off Harmon.
“All our pitchers got some time, and they had some good times and some bad times. [Davis] pitched excellent; she had a fantastic weekend all around,” Schroeder said. “It was nice too for all the pitchers at the end – they might have struggled at the beginning of the tournament, but at the end I thought they did very well.”
The Gauchos travel to Nevada next weekend for the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, hosted by University of Nevada Las Vegas.