After being dormant in the previous two tournaments, the long ball worked wonders for the UCSB softball team this past weekend.
The Gauchos (10-3 overall) went 4-1 and had six homeruns in their Mini Tournament, including three from senior right fielder Liz Walters.
“[Walters] had almost a homerun per game and she’s doing a great job with her power. I’m happy to see her start hitting confidently,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “We popped up a lot in our first game [on Friday] so we were trying to make things happen by staying on top of the ball more. Showing we could put down a sneaky bunt early on opened up the field for us and we came through with some big power.”
In its first home loss of the season, UCSB fell to University of Texas, San Antonio (5-10) 4-1 despite a homer from Walters. The game was close throughout, but a double from freshman Roadrunner Krista Sitka in the sixth inning made the difference.
Freshman right-hander MeLinda Matsumoto (5-0) showed off her entire repertoire on Saturday, beginning with a complete game shutout of Northern Illinois (5-3). The hurler gave up only two hits and fanned four in the 3-0 win.
“I was real confident because all my pitches were moving out there,” Matsumoto said. “The key to my game is just keeping people off balance and having them guessing what I’m going to throw next.”
A pair of fielding errors got the Gauchos going in the first inning when sophomore second baseman Christine Ramos singled to right field and senior first baseman Jessica Hejna reached base. Sacrifices from the next two Santa Barbara batters – coupled with a fielder’s bungle – gave UCSB the edge it needed.
“We do really well when we score first so we don’t have to press,” Ramos said. “I think we just came out relaxed today. We felt like if we could play our own game, we could beat anybody.”
Santa Barbara avenged its Friday loss to the Roadrunners by securing the 9-1 mercy victory on Saturday. The Gauchos blasted four homeruns in the game, including two from sophomore centerfielder Tiffany Wright and back-to-back shots from Walters and junior designated player Danielle Meyers.
“Liz is definitely having better at bats and it was nice to see Tiffany have some hits today, because we needed the three and four batters to step up and they did,” Schroeder said.
A doubleheader against Santa Clara on Sunday featured a 4-0 mercy win in game one, as well as a grueling 4-3 win in the rematch. Junior third baseman Tisha Duran blasted her first homerun of the year over the right field fence in the fourth inning and freshman righty Lindsey Correa improved to 3-1 after tossing a complete game shutout.
Despite trailing for much of the second game, the Gauchos took the lead after Walters hit a two-run bomb to left field. Matsumoto also chipped in with clutch pitching to grab her fifth win, as well as the save.
Up next for UCSB is its first out of state tournament, the Sun Devil/Wilson DeMarini Invitational, this Friday in Tempe, Ariz.