UCSB softball brought out the brooms for the second-consecutive weekend, as the Gauchos completed a three-game sweep of Cal Poly this past Saturday and Sunday at Campus Diamond.
Santa Barbara (23-14 overall, 6-0 in the Big West) earned a closely fought 7-6 victory over the Mustangs (15-16 overall, 3-3 in the Big West) in the first game, and followed with strong defensive plays in its 5-1 win on Saturday. In the series finale, UCSB triumphed 2-1 in another tight contest.
“They’re on a mission,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “They have a purpose, and their purpose and mission is to win, whether it’s on a passed ball, key hit or any way to make it happen.”
Facing a strong left-handed pitcher in freshman Anna Cohn in game one, the Gaucho bats were quieted until the third inning, when senior catcher Ericka Hansen led off with a solo homerun to right field and junior centerfielder Tiffany Wright later added a three-run blast of her own to make the score 4-2.
“It’s always nice to get things started, and I just got the ball rolling,” Hansen said. “The rest of my teammates picked me up, as far as getting the runs behind me.”
Cal Poly quickly responded with a two-run homer in the fourth, but back-to-back two-out doubles from Wright and senior third baseman Tisha Duran came in the fifth. The Mustangs would hit solo homeruns in the next two innings, eventually leading to a tie game, and runners on the corners for UCSB in the seventh as Santa Barbara would then win on a passed ball. Sophomore hurler Lindsey Correa improved to 10-4 after the victory.
In the second game, Duran singled home a run with two down in the first inning to put the Gauchos up early. Junior pitcher Tami Weston (8-2) had strong outing, striking out a pair and giving up just one run in the fourth. It would have more, if Wright hadn’t been able to launch the ball home for an incredible outfield assist.
“I always know that Ericka’s going to get it,” Wright said. “So I’m not afraid to just chuck it, and luckily, when I do, it’s usually on the mark so that helps too. It’s just a confidence thing between me and the catcher, because we’ve played together for a while now.”
The contest remained deadlocked at one until the sixth when senior Danielle Meyers stepped in for a pinch-hit two-run double with the bases loaded. UCSB added two more insurance runs in the inning before sophomore hurler MeLinda Matsumoto (5-8) came in to pitch the Gauchos out of a bases-loaded situation for the Mustangs in the seventh.
“They worked together, and we got a key pinch-hit there for the game-winner, and that’s what it’s all about,” Galicinao said. “We had [Matsumoto] come in to get that last out, and that was huge, because they had the meat of their lineup coming up.”
The third and final game began with a RBI single by Hansen in the second, and Cal Poly later responded with a homerun in the fourth inning. However, Wright was again the hero after she knocked a solo shot out of the park in the sixth to give her two homeruns and four RBI in the series.
“I’m just completely relaxed,” Wright said. “I’m just waiting for my pitch now, and I’m not guessing anymore. I’m not afraid to mess up, because I know I’m not going to.”
Matsumoto took care of business on the mound for UCSB, allowing one run on five hits and striking out two to notch her fifth win of the season.
“[Matsumoto] has had some struggles with finding her pitches, but [on Saturday] when she came in, those were the best sequence of pitches that we’ve seen from her,” Galicinao said. “She really looked like she was out there doing a job. She got her start again [yesterday] and she just continued from where she was [on Saturday].”
UCSB will play a non-conference doubleheader this Tuesday when #13 Fresno State comes to Campus Diamond.