This season has been a tale of two Gauchos: one easily handles top-ranked teams while the other struggles against conference opponents.
Big West play has not been kind to the UC Santa Barbara softball team (24-17 overall, 1-8 in the Big West) in 2007. To make matters worse, its next opponent, Cal Poly, has jumped out to its best record in over three years. The Mustangs (33-12 overall, 8-1 Big West) are coming off of a difficult series with UC Davis, but they do boast victories against #8 Northwestern and #17 Stanford.
“Cal Poly has been playing well; I just think we need to play one game at a time and maintain our focus. If we don’t do that, then we don’t give ourselves a chance,” Head Coach Kristy Schroeder said. “If we’re playing focused then we can play with any team in the country. We just have to remind ourselves that we have to be in it all the time. We can’t let up and we can’t get too tight.”
In the upcoming three-game series, UCSB will face one of the best players in the country, senior centerfielder Lisa Modglin who captured her fourth Big West Player of the Week Award last week. Though relatively quiet in the Davis series, she currently dominates a host of conference categories including batting average (.489), slugging percentage (.993), hits (67), RBI (41) and home runs (16). Cal Poly’s bullpen also has impressive numbers as all four pitchers in the team’s rotation can be found among the Big West’s Top 10 in ERA. Despite the intimidating statistics, UCSB’s senior pitcher Jennifer Davis remains confident following the Gauchos’ victory over Cal State Northridge last weekend.
“That’ll be good for us,” Davis said. “I think we needed this ice-breaker win in conference. We’ll hopefully relax a little and know that we can win. You get into that rut of, ‘Oh gosh, we haven’t won a game in conference,’ but now that we have that under our belt it’s a good weekend to go into against Cal Poly.”
Highlights of the series with Northridge included Schroeder’s 300th career win and an incredible performance from Davis (8-11) both offensively as well as defensively. The right-handed hurler struck out 20 Matadors in 14 innings of work and helped her own cause with a home run in each of the three contests. Additionally, junior third baseman Tisha Duran not only played solid defense, but also came alive at the plate in the last two games going 3-for-6 with five RBI.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Duran. “They all make plays and I just want to be part of it. I just want to play my game out there.”
The series begins with a 12 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday and wraps up with the final game on Sunday.