The UCSB softball team’s trip to Hawaii for the Hawaii Spring Fling Tournament, hosted by University of Hawaii this week, will be anything but a spring break for the Gauchos. Santa Barbara lost 2-0 to University of Detroit Mercy in its first tournament game and dropped the second game of the day, 2-1 to Penn State.
“The biggest thing I’m concerned about is that we might think it’s more of a vacation than a tournament. It’s the first time the team’s gone to Hawaii and it’s a good tournament,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “It’s a nice last tournament before we settle down over Spring Break and leading into conference.”
The Titans scored first in the second when senior catcher Katrina Klemp led off with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice and came home on a single. Klemp scored the second and final run of the game in the bottom of the fourth off another RBI single from senior designated player Lindsay Roy, who also drove her in two innings earlier.
Even though the Gauchos tallied four hits off Mercy’s starting pitcher Adrienne Baran and one off senior relief hurler Christin Bienenstein, UCSB could not manufacture any runs, leaving 10 runners on base. Junior southpaw Ginger Gutierrez, who fell to 2-2 with the loss, pitched a complete game for Santa Barbara, giving up two earned runs on six hits.
On Wednesday afternoon, junior hurler Jenn Davis lasted six full innings before giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Nittany Lions the 2-1 victory. Freshman Jackie Conlin, in her second start as a Gaucho, scored UCSB’s lone run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from freshman second baseman Christine Ramos. Davis and the Gauchos drop to .500 with 6-6 and 9-9 records, respectively.
Santa Barbara, despite going 2-2 at last weekend’s Worth Invitational, is coming off its biggest win this year – a 2-0 victory over #5 Stanford, its first victory over a ranked team. The Gauchos hope to bring that momentum into this week’s tournament.
“I think we’ve been scoring the runs and doing well offensively and defensively; we’ve been keeping ourselves in any game,” Schroeder said. If we see strong performances from our pitchers, that gives us a really good chance to win. Defensively, we’ve been strong all year long and hopefully that will continue as well.”
Overall, Gaucho pitching had a good weekend, with Davis getting the victory over Stanford after dropping the 6-3 decision to #19 Oregon State. Gutierrez pitched a one-hitter against Loyola University Chicago and has been a key contributor for the Gaucho defense.
“[Ginger has] been very consistent and doesn’t really get too emotional, up or down, even if she’s struggling a little bit. She’s working one pitch at a time,” Schroeder said. “If she continues to put the ball where she wants to put it and doesn’t let the things that happen early on affect her too much, then she’s going to be successful.”
Santa Barbara next faces University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) (8-12 overall), which leads the all-time series 35-17 with its starting pitcher freshman Christie Robinson, who boasts a 1.17 ERA and averages one strike out per inning.
In the second game of Thursday’s double feature, UCSB will play host to Hawaii (9-8), which lost 5-0 to Penn State on Monday. Junior first baseman Tyleen Tausaga, the Western Athletic Conference’s player of the week, leads the Rainbow Wahine with five homers, 16 RBI and a .370 average. The Gauchos will close out the scheduled games on Friday against Longwood (9-7) before heading into tournament bracket competition.
First pitch for Thursday’s game against UNLV is slated for 2 p.m. in Honolulu.