The UCSB softball team turned up the heat a little too late this weekend, dropping its first two games to visiting Cal Poly 6-2 and 6-4 before winning the series finale 9-5. Saturday’s doubleheader saw six Gaucho errors, which helped give the Mustangs three unearned runs and the series victory.
“We’ve been practicing the same but I think we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect [defensively] because the pitchers have been struggling so instead of just going out and continuing to play … they’ve been trying to trying to do a little too much,” UCSB Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “Some of it wasn’t being smart – we made, [Saturday] especially, some dumb throwing plays that we shouldn’t have made and that were controllable.”
In game one Saturday, Cal Poly plated three in the top of the first off of a three-run homer from freshman first baseman Melissa Pura. With the early advantage, the Mustangs tacked on two more in the third inning.
The Gauchos scored their first run in the fourth after bringing freshman first baseman Tiffany Wright, who had reached on a single, around to score. Cal Poly responded in the sixth with another run, this time coming from sophomore second baseman Sarah Iwata.
UCSB scored again in the bottom of the seventh with a sacrifice fly from junior center fielder Kendra Singley, but it was too little too late as Cal Poly took game one.
“Our team realizes we need to score some runs,” Schroeder said. “We have to get over the mindset that we’re defeated early on if they do score a few runs on us because we’re capable of scoring, nine [and] 10 runs a game if we do.”
Game two was a closer contest between the Central Coast rivals. Senior right fielder Chelsea Green drove in freshman third baseman Cristen Lee to put the Mustangs on the board first.
Singley started the Gauchos off with a solo shot in the first, her sixth of the year. Sophomore third baseman Danielle Meyers crossed the plate in the second on an RBI single from junior shortstop Brittany Putich.
Back-to-back solo shots from Green and Pura in the top of the third put Cal Poly on top 3-2. A passed ball by Mustang catcher Kristen Pocock in the fourth allowed junior right fielder Liz Walters to come home and an RBI single from freshman second baseman Christine Ramos helped the Gauchos claim a 4-3 lead.
With the game tied at four in the top of the sixth, three Gaucho errors brought in one Cal Poly run before junior left fielder Kelly Comstock sealed the game with a single to left.
Sophomore Robyn Kontra, who pitched a complete game victory in game one, relieved starter freshman Jenna Maiden in the fifth and held the Gauchos scoreless to get her 13th win of the year.
Game three Sunday was a large improvement for UCSB, which scored nine runs off of 10 hits. Tied at three in the bottom of the sixth, the Gaucho bats exploded for six runs off five hits and one Mustang error. Singley put the game out of reach with a three-run homer, giving her seven this year – three away from UCSB’s single-season record. Junior pitcher Jenn Davis (14-13) notched her first win of the weekend after losing Saturday’s game one, while Maiden was credited with the loss, giving up five earned runs.
“I was real happy with our performances at the plate, I thought we made more adjustments at the plate and obviously had a lot more solid at-bats,” Schroeder said.
Next up for the Gauchos is a road trip to UC Riverside next weekend.