Tonight will open the first chapter in a tale of two cities as the Santa Barbara softball team (26-19 overall, 9-9 in the Big West) takes on rival Cal Poly (32-16, 12-6) in San Luis Obispo for a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. today and another game on Saturday.
Last weekend the Gauchos were swept by #24 Long Beach State 6-2, 8-1 and 2-1. In Cal Poly’s last weekend of play, the Mustangs lost two games and won one against the 49ers, 2-0, 2-5 and 0-6.
After the wins over UCSB, the 49ers clinched the Big West title and look to head to NCAA Regionals beginning May 20.
“Last weekend was disappointing because we didn’t show up to play,” UCSB Assistant Coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “The scores reflected the way we played on Saturday. We picked it up on Sunday, playing more to our potential but we definitely need to hit the ball better this weekend.”
Both Cal Poly and Santa Barbara will enter this weekend’s play, the final series in the Big West season, coming off losing weekends against Long Beach State. If a sweep occurs, one of the teams could possibly finish second in Big West behind the 49ers.
“Cal Poly is having a good year,” Bredbenner said. “They have a lot of momentum with a new coach, and the team overall has new life. This is a huge weekend for us … We have a chance of finishing anywhere between second and fifth in the Big West.”
Fullerton (25-19, 11-17) and Pacific (28-24, 10-18) currently sit above Santa Barbara in Big West standings. If both teams are swept by Northridge and Utah State, respectively, and UCSB sweeps Cal Poly, the Gauchos can claim second place in the Big West and possibly receive a bid to regionals next week.
“Our [Ratings Percentage Index] is pretty high, but our record’s not as good as some of the other teams in our conference,” Bredbenner said. “Fullerton, Long Beach and Pacific have higher RPIs than we do. If they lose all their games and we win our three, there’d be a small chance that we make it to regionals.”
Opening pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by a second game at 7 p.m. Big West play will conclude tomorrow for Cal Poly and UCSB after their noon game in San Luis Obispo.