UCSB’s sweep over Northridge this weekend resembled a home run derby more than a softball series. The UCSB softball team combined with Northridge to tally seven four-baggers in a series that was markedly one-sided.
The Gauchos (26-16 overall, 9-6 in the Big West) took Saturday’s doubleheader 7-6 and 3-1 and a mercy win Sunday, 9-0. The Matadors (14-19 overall, 3-12 Big West) extended their losing streak to nine.
Leading off for Santa Barbara in game one, sophomore shortstop Brittany Putich crushed the fourth pitch from Northridge sophomore Erin Sigala over the left field fence for the first of her two home runs this weekend. Sigala struck back in the top of the second with a three-run shot to right.
With Northridge leading 6-4 in the seventh, senior pitcher Kia Fennell, who relieved Sigala in the sixth, gave up four walks to bring in two runs, bringing on extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, Gaucho sophomore center fielder Jessica Hejna drove in junior third baseman Karyna Wilkerson with a hit to left field. Fennell got the loss while junior Carly Harmon earned the win after relieving sophomore starter Jennifer Davis, who gave up six earned runs on six hits.
“I think they were tired from the first game but were happy that we got over that hump and won that game, and that allowed us to come back and feel a little bit more comfortable,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “We relaxed a little bit; we should have had a few more runs in the second game, but our base-running was lacking a little bit.”
In part two of the double feature, a fielder’s choice from Davis plated Hejna in the fourth, giving the Gauchos the first runs of the game. An inning later, Davis connected again to bring around Putich and Hejna – puting the Gauchos up 3-0. Santa Barbara sophomore hurler Lindsey Sommer pitched a complete game in the win, giving up only one run in the sixth on an RBI double from Northridge freshman center fielder Jackie Duree.
“I think it’s a big turnaround. I think we’re coming back up to the level we should be at and it’s at the right time,” Davis said. “It’s the time of the season when we’re playing the toughest teams in the conference and we’re playing at our best.”
UCSB came out firing Sunday in the final game of the series, with Putich again leading off with a home run – which was quickly followed up by a two-run shot to the left by Davis.
Two more runs came around in the fourth on a homer by freshman outfielder Danielle Meyers. The mercy rule came into effect in the fifth when Hejna hit the seventh home run of the weekend, her third of the year, to end the game and give the Gauchos the sweep.
Improving to 10-5, Sommer gave up only four hits to hold the Matadors scoreless. The tag team of Sigala and Fennell, Northridge’s only two pitchers, gave up a combined nine runs on nine hits, with Sigala getting her 11th loss of the year.
“It was a great finish because we struggled a little in the first game so it was great for us to come and dominate in the last game. Sommer gave us another great game but our bats were really going. We had quite a few home runs,” Schroeder said. “We needed to sweep Northridge, that was critical for us going to [NCAA] Regionals.”