The UCSB softball team is looking to capitalize on their home field advantage as the host of this weekend’s Softball by the Beach Tournament at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos play five games this weekend against a variety of teams – San Diego State, Rider University, Long Beach State, Tulsa, and Cal State Northridge.
While this weekend’s line-up does not boast the nationally ranked teams of last weekend’s Campbell/Cartier Tournament at San Diego State, Santa Barbara is not taking the games lightly.
“Everyone we play we have to be ready for, none of the teams are nationally ranked in the top 25 but Long Beach State got some votes,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “We have to be ready for everyone.” UCSB had a very successful weekend in San Diego posting a 3-2 record, dropping games to #2 UCLA and #17 Cal. Junior outfielder Jessica Hejna led Santa Barbara, going 7-16 on the weekend, contributing four runs of her own and six RBIs. Junior pitcher Jennifer Davis went 3-1 in the circle posting a 2.77 ERA and fanning 31 batters over the weekend.
“We hit really well at [the San Diego State tournament], I thought our defense was almost impeccable, we really only made two errors,” Schroeder said. “Pitching wise, I’m excited to see the other two pitchers pitch a little bit and see what they’re capable of. We did a great job last weekend so if we could do that again I’d be real happy”
This weekend’s tournament gives the Gauchos a glimpse of what’s to come in Big West Conference play, taking on Long Beach on Saturday and Northridge on Sunday. The 49ers swept UCSB last year and were the first team to beat #2 UCLA this season, defeating them 1-0 on Wednesday. Junior pitcher Michelle Turner poses a threat after giving up just one hit to the Bruins while junior outfielder Kourtnee Gervasi drove in the game-winning run with an RBI single.
“I think [playing Long Beach and Northridge] allows us to get a feel for where they are and where we are and what things we might need to improve on before we get into conference,” Schroeder said. “It always helps to gauge that but I’ve been happy with the way we’ve been playing and if we can continue to do that then I think we’ll do well.”
The Gauchos begin their tournament schedule Friday against San Diego State. First pitch is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.