The UCSB softball team will be looking to squeeze out some wins during its weekend trip to UC Davis for its last nonconference action of the season.
The Gauchos (16-13 overall, 2-4 in the Big West) are coming off of their second consecutive series loss, going 1-2 against Pacific last weekend. With its win in game two of last Saturday’s doubleheader – marking the first time since 2004 that the Gauchos fell victim to the mercy rule – Pacific snapped Santa Barbara’s 14-game home winning streak, the longest in program history.
“The last two games, we played some good teams – Fullerton and Pacific,” junior pitcher Jenn Davis said. “The players and coaches know that we can play a lot better than what we have been. For the rest of the season, we feel and we hope we’ll be a lot better than we have been the past two weekends.”
The Tiger pitching staff only allowed one UCSB run in the final two games of the weekend homestand. Though the Gaucho defense has been working this year – currently the best in the Big West with just 15 errors – their hitting has slowed. UCSB, 14-9 in nonconference play, is currently in last place in team hitting with a collective .233 batting average and also last in stolen bases going 17-25.
“No, we’re definitely not [satisfied with our hitting], we’ve been working on it a lot lately,” Davis said. “In the beginning, all through fall and even beginning of this season, we were hitting pretty good. We’re in a little bit of a slump but we’ll come around. There can definitely be improvements but we know what we’re capable of; there’s no reason why we should be ranked [last in hitting].”
Gaucho pitching had a difficult weekend against Pacific with Davis, who has an ERA of 3.50 with 136 strikeouts, bearing the brunt of the load, starting all three games and contributing 11 innings of work.
“The last couple games have been rough for me, trying to figure out how to best prepare myself during the week to go three games in a row but it can only get better,” Davis said.
The Aggies (12-23 overall) also dropped a series to Pacific before taking a series from UC Riverside last weekend.
After hitting .375 and stealing two bases, to give her a team-leading 12 steals on the season, Aggie freshman outfielder Belinda Paine was named the Division I Independent Player of the Week.
Davis has a team batting average of .269 but its pitching staff has an ERA of 5.35 and has allowed opponents to hit .294. Santa Barbara defeated the Aggies three times at home last year.
“They’re not one of the top teams but we always play every team, UCLA or UC Davis, like they’re a good team,” Davis said. “We haven’t had much trouble against them in the past and they haven’t been that strong of a program. We’re not worried but we’re still going to go at them as if they were Fullerton or LBSU.”
First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at La Rue Field in Davis, Calif.