At Matador Diamond this past weekend, the UC Santa Barbara softball team received its first two conference losses, but managed to avoid the sweep by winning one of three games.
UCSB (24-18 overall, 7-2 in the Big West) fell to Cal State Northridge (16-19, 5-4 Big West) in both sides of a doubleheader on Saturday, 5-4 and 3-1, before blanking the Matadors in the final game 4-0. Despite the losses, junior center fielder Tiffany Wright and senior third baseman Tisha Duran combined for a seven-for-19 performance in the three games with two homeruns and seven RBI.
“We just got outplayed,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “We didn’t do great and we didn’t do horrible. We still had our offensive effort and [Northridge] really scraps for runs so they just found a way.”
In the teams’ first meeting, Northridge scored one run in the third inning on a wild pitch, but Santa Barbara rallied home three runs in the fourth with a RBI single by sophomore first baseman Jessica Ziegler and a two-run home run off the bat of Wright. The Gaucho lead would not last, however, as the Matadors put up three runs of their own later in the inning. The home team added one more in the sixth and proceeded to load the bases against sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (6-8), who had relieved sophomore Lindsey Correa (10-6), but Matsumoto was able to get out of the jam on a fielder’s choice. Santa Barbara was one hit away from tying the contest after Duran hit an RBI double with two down in the seventh, but Northridge got the final out and the win on a catch in foul territory.
Game two turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Gaucho junior hurler Tami Weston (8-4) and Matador senior pitcher Samantha Schroeder (0-2). Both starters yielded just one run each through four innings and for UCSB’s only run of the game came off a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Ericka Hansen in the second inning. A RBI double and RBI single came back-to-back in the fifth, which would be good enough for Northridge’s second win of the day. Weston took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out four.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score in the second game,” Matsumoto said. “But the ball just wasn’t falling our way. We eventually figured out that we could do the small things and get hits better than them which helped us [in game three].”
Santa Barbara struck early with a three-run homer from Duran in the first inning of the series finale on Sunday. Defensively for the Gauchos, Matsumoto threw a complete game shutout and gave up just four hits for her sixth win of the season. UCSB would add another run in the fifth when Ziegler reached on an error, stole second, and was then singled home by Wright.
“I felt good and everything was working well,” Matsumoto said. “I was throwing a lot of my off-speed stuff for strikes so that really helped. We scored three runs early and everyone was really playing together.”
UCSB returns home for a three-game matchup with Long Beach State this weekend.