The UCSB softball team began the season 1-3, but they could have just as easily been 3-1.
In the UCLA/Fullerton series in Westwood, Calif., the Gauchos fell 5-4 to Nevada (3-2) and then took a 12-1 mercy loss against #5 Oklahoma (3-2) in Friday’s action. Saturday featured UCSB’s first win of the season, an 8-6 victory over Santa Clara (0-4), and a closely contested 7-5 loss to #10 UCLA (4-1). With at least one RBI in each game, senior third baseman Tisha Duran accounted for much of the offense, finishing the weekend with two homeruns and five RBI.
“Our team played phenomenal defense,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “There were so many ESPN-worthy plays. Our pitching staff struggled a lot, but they were just a big bundle of nerves and I think that’s what the preseason is for. Our losses to Nevada and UCLA were heart-breaking losses especially the game against UCLA. At least we can walk away from that game proud of how we played together.”
Beginning with Nevada, the Gauchos took a 2-1 lead in the third inning after junior centerfielder Tiffany Wright smacked a two-run single to center. However the Wolf Pack got a big boost from a three-run homerun in the sixth. Duran had a solo shot to left in the sixth, but UCSB could not complete the comeback and sophomore hurler Lindsey Correa (1-1) took her first loss.
In Friday’s second game, Oklahoma used a five-run first inning and a four-run fourth to put the Gauchos away early, giving sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (0-2) a loss in her first start. Duran accounted for Santa Barbara’s only run with her second long ball of the day in the second inning.
The tide turned for UCSB on Saturday against Santa Clara, as sophomore first baseman Jessica Ziegler had the best game of her career with a four-for-five performance, two runs, two steals and one RBI. Some small ball highlighted by a two-run triple from senior left fielder Nicole Churnock gave the Gauchos a 6-0 lead in the third, and even though the Broncos scored four runs over the next two innings, Santa Barbara never relinquished the lead. Correa notched her first win of the season with some help from junior hurler Tami Weston, who finished the final two innings. The pair combined for 10 strikeouts.
In the nightcap against UCLA, the Bruins put two runs on the board in the first inning, and UCSB took advantage of errors in the second and third to respond with three scores of its own. One of two more runs for the Gauchos came in the fifth, off a RBI single by junior Christine Ramos, but a three-run homer in the seventh tied the contest and a two-run blast in the eighth gave the Bruins an edge. Matsumoto pitched the entire game and took her second loss of the season.
“I think base-running, defense and our offense really came around, and now it’s just a matter of getting pitching,” Galicinao said. “I think everybody after this weekend is just excited to play some more, because if we didn’t know before that we could beat any team, we definitely know now.”
The Gauchos will head back on the field this Thursday at 7 p.m. for the Campbell/Cartier Classic, a four-day event at San Diego State.