When you compete well at home and in beautiful weather, it’s hard not to want to have every game there.
The UC Santa Barbara softball team, 4-1 at Campus Diamond, plays back-to-back games against Loyola Chicago (3-9 overall) on Saturday and then hits the road for a pair on Sunday versus North Dakota (5-9) and Loyola Marymount (12-8) in Los Angeles. UCSB (9-10) returns home after winning two of its five games at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Colombus, Ga.
“After a long road trip, we’re excited to be at the end of the quarter at home so the team will be able to do things in the classroom and on the field,” Head Coach Brie Galiciano said. “We’ve been playing some solid softball in the last few games and I think the team is noticing the improvements. We’re really figuring it out.”
As indicated by the first day’s results, a 9-1 loss to #12 Michigan (17-2) and an 8-1 victory over Syracuse (0-13), the Gauchos were able to find consistent offensive production from two of their freshmen, right fielder Katie McWhirter and shortstop Jessica Beristianos, throughout the tournament. McWhirter upped her batting average to .267 and added three RBI this past weekend while Beristianos went five-for-12 with two walks and two RBI in the series of five road games.
“It was always in them, so it’s not a big surprise because it was just a matter of when it would come,” Galiciano said.
On the hill, sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (1-6) found her rhythm against #19 DePaul (12-5) in the Leadoff Classic finale this past Sunday. Matsumoto did not get the win, but she held the Blue Demons to a season-low two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
“We played solid defense and MeLinda did well,” Galiciano said. “She’s been throwing a lot against tough teams, but this was one of her strongest games in terms of pitching her game.”
Loyola Chicago limps into this weekend after having lost its last two contests by a combined 19 runs. Amidst an equally disappointing season, North Dakota has lost six of its last seven games and four out of five starting pitchers have a 6.30 ERA or higher. Finally, Loyola Marymount has consistent pitching as well as five batters hitting over .360 to make the Lions possibly the most dangerous opponent UCSB faces this weekend.
The first pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader is set for 9 a.m. while Sunday’s action kicks off at noon.