After struggling on its last road trip, the UCSB softball team is looking for the comfort of home this weekend, hosting Central Coast rival Cal Poly. Santa Barbara (19-16 overall, 3-6 in the Big West) sits in fifth place after dropping its most recent Big West Conference series 2-1 to Cal State Northridge last weekend.
The Matadors mercied the Gauchos in the first two games of last weekend’s series 9-0 and 9-1 before UCSB struck back on Sunday to avoid the series sweep, winning 13-5.
“Obviously, the first two losses [at CSUN] were pretty devastating because we got mercied twice. It was pretty frustrating and we didn’t really hit well and we didn’t pitch well,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “Sunday, we did play pretty well. … We ended up giving up five runs. They probably didn’t get more than three solid hits off of [junior pitcher] Jenn [Davis].”
While Santa Barbara brings in a 6-2 home record, it has failed to win more than one game in each of its last four series, with the only exception coming against nonconference opponent UC Davis when the Gauchos went 2-1.
Freshman second baseman Christine Ramos has become the Gauchos’ top hitter with a .307 batting average, 18 runs and 35 hits. Ramos has embraced her leadoff role for UCSB, recording an on-base percentage of .378, the second highest on the team.
“Christine is always out there giving it her best effort. She’s a real competitor out there. Even if she makes mistakes, she bounces back, makes a play after that, doesn’t let it affect her,” Schroeder said. “[It’s] nice to have her leading off for our team; she has that twinkle in her eye that makes other teams have to be on their toes when she’s at the bat – she always means business.”
Nipping at Ramos’s heels is junior center fielder Kendra Singley, hitting .300 with a team-high 21 RBI. With 16 home runs and 78 RBI in her career, Singley sits in fifth place on the UCSB all-time list.
The Mustangs (22-19 overall, 6-3 Big West) sit in third place and are currently riding a season-high six-game winning streak. Junior outfielder Lisa Modglin leads Cal Poly in virtually every category – .369 batting average, 33 runs, 15 doubles and a .660 slugging percentage.
The Mustangs’ top three pitchers all have ERAs under 3.30 with 118 combined strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Robyn Kontra is the #1 starter for Cal Poly, pitching 145 innings with an ERA of 2.94 with 67 strikeouts.
Like UCSB, the Mustangs had a difficult preseason schedule, taking on many ranked opponents in some of the same top-notch tournaments. They recently lost their assistant coach, former UCLA All-American Keira Goerl, who left the team indefinitely to pitch for Team Toyota in the Japanese Pro League.
First pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader is slated for 12 p.m. at Campus Diamond.