It’s a Big West softball battle to the death for UCSB (26-16 overall, 9-6 in the Big West) and Long Beach (33-14, 13-2).
The Beach, which took the conference title last year, sits atop Big West rankings and climbed to #24 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.
Senior Marcel Torres leads Long Beach both offensively and in the circle, hitting .329 with a team-high 38 RBI in addition to a 1.53 ERA, second-highest on the team.
Going 9-0 at home, Long Beach is hitting a collective .279, while 49er pitcher Meredith Cervenka has limited opponents to .192. Cervenka, the 2004 Big West Co-Pitcher of the Year, is first in the Big West with a 1.49 ERA and she shut out Cal Poly last weekend when the 49ers took two out of three.
“LBSU is outstanding. They won conference last year, and I think what makes them so good is that they’re consistent everywhere — defense, pitching — so you’re not going to necessarily catch them on an off day because they have something that’s good to balance it out,” UCSB senior first baseman Lindsey Herrin said. “If their pitching isn’t doing well, then they have great defense and great hitting.”
The Gauchos, who sit in fourth place in the Big West, are coming off a series sweep of Northridge at home last weekend in which they hit six long balls, two of which came from sophomore shortstop Brittany Putich. Sophomore outfielder Jessica Hejna was named Big West Player of the Week after hitting .636 in 11 plate appearances, coming around six times and plating four other Gauchos.
Santa Barbara’s pitching trio of sophomores Carly Harmon, Jenn Davis and Lindsey Sommer all saw action last weekend. Harmon relieved Davis to get the win in the first game of Saturday’s double feature while Sommer tossed the remaining two victories of the weekend. Davis moved into third place in the record book with 374 total strikeouts, five of which she completed last week.
“I feel comfortable with anyone,” Schroeder said. “They all threw [Thursday] and were all hitting their spots.”
First pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m.