The UCSB softball team fought tooth and nail against Pacific this past weekend, but they are still in search of their first conference victory. The Tigers (28-13 overall, 3-0 in the Big West) swept the Gauchos (20-14, 0-6 Big West) in three games, winning each by one run.
Friday’s doubleheader featured two eight-inning contests, ending in 3-2 and 5-4 wins for Pacific. The series finale was a pitchers’ duel until a single late in the game gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage.
“This is conference play, so it’s a whole different attitude and a different ballgame,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “It’s tough to play at [Bill Simoni Field] and have so much pressure on our pitchers, especially when it’s the bottom of the sixth and they are the home team.”
Game one saw Pacific get on the board first in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly, but UCSB got an RBI single from senior shortstop Brittany Putich to knot the score in the sixth. Each team posted an additional run before a bases-loaded walk in the eighth gave the Tigers their first win of the day. Senior pitcher Jennifer Davis (4-10) suffered the loss after giving up the last run in her 1.2 innings of work while freshman hurler MeLinda Matsumoto started and gave up two runs on four hits. The Tigers’ senior pitcher Chelsea Engle (15-9) notched the win, allowing two runs on six hits.
Pacific followed the first victory by quickly snatching a three-run lead – all on first-inning walks – in game two. Freshman hurler Lindsey Correa and sophomore pitcher Tami Weston both struggled, giving up a combined 10 walks in the first four innings. The Gauchos were able to tie the score in the third after junior third baseman Tisha Duran hit an RBI single, and a two-run double came from sophomore infielder Tiffany Wright. The Tigers went up 4-3 in the fifth, but another tie came in the seventh when sophomore second baseman Christine Ramos had an RBI single as part of her four-of-eight day in Stockton. Davis earned her second loss in as many games after giving up an RBI double in the eighth.
“Early on, our pitchers walked a lot and gave up a lot of free bases,” Schroeder said. “But they kept the ball in the park and I was happy about that; we just need to have smarter at bats and swing at our pitch.”
In a pitchers’ rematch from the first game, Matsumoto faced Engle and, despite some scoring opportunities for both teams, neither club would register a run until the sixth. The Tigers got an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Casey Goldsand for the only run of the game, while Engle allowed just two hits in her complete-game shutout.
“On Saturday, we played strong defensively and had some good at bats,” Schroeder said. “But if we don’t hit well with runners in scoring position, we cannot put runs on the board. You have to get runs early to take the pressure off the pitchers and put the pressure on the other team.”