The UCSB softball team ended its Spring Break on a low note this weekend, dropping two out of three at Cal State Fullerton and halting its six-game winning streak. The Gauchos (16-11 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) split the opening games of conference play on Saturday before losing yesterday 8-2.
“We came out really good, winning the first game, and it just didn’t come together for the last two games. I don’t think we’re that disappointed, we tried our hardest but it just didn’t happen,” junior pitcher Jennifer Davis said. “We all know we could have played better but they’re a good team. … It just wasn’t our weekend.”
Santa Barbara kicked off the series with an 8-6 victory in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, a game that saw two home runs from each side. Junior outfielder Kendra Singley got things started with a solo shot to put UCSB up 1-0 in the top of the first. The Titans responded with small ball, bringing around a run in the bottom of the second.
The Gauchos took control in their half of the fourth, scoring five runs on one hit and two Fullerton errors. Santa Barbara extended its lead in the next inning, adding on two runs to take a 7-1 lead. Davis, who earned the victory and held the Titans to just five hits in the first six innings, gave up three earned runs in the bottom of the seventh before getting the last batter to ground out for the 8-6 victory.
Slow and steady did not win the race for the Gauchos in game two of Saturday’s double feature. UCSB spread its runs across 10 innings while the Titans scored in chunks – four runs in the third and two in the 10th – to take the game.
Down one run in the top of the seventh, junior designated hitter Liz Walters came through in the clutch with a solo shot, her first of the year, to tie the game at six. Davis, who replaced freshman Tami Weston in the third, held the Titans to two hits through four innings. Fullerton had the last word though, getting a homer from sophomore designated hitter Kiki Munoz in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.
“We have such a strong defense – we’re very consistent – and the people who play behind me are always making amazing plays so there’s not much we can improve on,” Davis said. “Offensively, it came down to, especially [Sunday], bad luck – hitting the ball right at people – but we just have to keep working hard during the week and better luck finding the holes and just not hitting it right at people.”
The Titans struck early and often in the final game of the series Sunday, scoring once in the first and second innings and plating four in the bottom of the fifth and two in the sixth.
After going scoreless on three hits in the first six innings, the Gauchos came out swinging in the top of the seventh. Five players contributed to create two runs – including Walters and junior outfielder Jessica Hejna, who recorded the RBIs.
Davis pitched in her third consecutive game Sunday and gave up six runs on six hits while striking out three. Weston came on in relief in the sixth and allowed two runs on as many hits. Davis got the loss for the game, falling 10-8 on the season.
“I’m used to pitching a lot so as far as endurance, physically I was fine; but it definitely helps to have another pitcher to give the team you’re playing a different look but I don’t think it put them at a disadvantage,” Davis said. “I felt fine but things happen that way sometimes.”
Before this weekend’s series, the Gauchos experienced a successful break, going 6-3. UCSB started off with a trip to Hawaii, where they went recorded victories over UNLV, Hawaii and Longwood University. The Gauchos returned home for a doubleheader against Radford University and took both games.
“[Hawaii] was so much fun, we were totally amazed at everything so we got off to a slow start but we finally got it together – we knew we were in paradise but we were there to play,” Davis said. “[The Radford games were] big confidence boosters and proved to us and everyone else how we can play and it was a good couple games to go into conference.”
Santa Barbara hosts Loyola Marymount on Wednesday before continuing its conference schedule against Pacific this weekend at Campus Diamond.