Defeating one of the best teams in the country in #2 Arizona State was not as surprising as some might think for this year’s UCSB softball team.
“This team has the best depth and is just solid all around compared to 2003’s [record-setting] squad,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “A lot of people are hitting well, so we haven’t been relying on one person and it has been a full team effort when we win. This team definitely has confidence.”
Heading north for the Stanford Classic, the Gauchos (13-5 overall) look to finish off the last of their season-opening tournaments on a high note. UCSB begins today against a San Diego State team that took the Gauchos to eight innings before a game-winning single from senior shortstop Brittany Putich put the game away. The Aztecs (12-8) will likely throw junior Christina Ross (7-3) who boasts a 0.95 ERA. Sharing the mound with her should be senior right-handed hurler Jennifer Davis who, after blowing batters away with a season-high 12 strikeouts in her previous game, has lowered her ERA to 0.78.
Following the Aztec game, Santa Barbara runs into #12 Stanford (16-5). Despite a shaky performance last weekend on account of a stomach flu that infected the team, Stanford has used both dominant pitching and solid hitting to defeat opponents. Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna (11-2) will take her 119 total strikeouts up against an undefeated freshman in right-hander MeLinda Matsumoto (6-0). Offensively, neither team relies too heavily on one batter as five Gauchos have homered in the last two weeks, and Stanford has seven players with over a .300 batting average.
Saturday’s action kicks off first with Sacramento State (4-9), a team that has lost six of its last seven. The Hornets are headlined by sophomore catcher Jamie Schloredt, who boasts an impressive .526 batting average and a team-leading 11 RBI.
“We played a tough game against San Diego State in San Diego earlier this year, Sacramento State is scrappy, and I know Stanford struggled a bit last weekend so we know we can beat anybody if we just gear up to them,” Schroeder said.
The Gauchos then face Loyola (1-7) to conclude the doubleheader. Currently on a seven game losing streak, the Ramblers do have a highlight in graduate student first baseman Ashley Mitchell who leads the team with a .409 average.
UCSB’s final opponent for Sunday is still yet to be determined.
“Our goal has been to put runs on the board early,” Schroeder said. “We need to play a bit more consistently, but our losses this last weekend were only by one run, so hopefully we can focus on what we did well and we’ll definitely be working on getting our bunts down this week.”
The Stanford Classic tournament begins today with the first pitch slated for 10 a.m.