Gaucho softball got the victory and some history in its series finale with #14 Long Beach State this weekend.
Senior third baseman Tisha Duran became UCSB’s single-season home run record holder after she launched her 13th homerun of 2008 over the left field fence on Sunday. The solo shot in the second inning turned out to be crucial, as Santa Barbara (25-20 overall, 8-4 in the Big West) won its only game out of three meetings, 8-7. The 49ers (33-12 overall, 9-3 Big West) earned both victories, 8-6 and 5-2, over the Gauchos in Saturday’s doubleheader, but a resilient UCSB squad attempted to come from behind in all three games.
“I saw a lot of fight from them [on Sunday],” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “They were relentless. I mean, we know that we need to win out, and [Saturday] was just very disappointing, so I think they came out today ready to win. They did what they needed to do, kept their energy up and it was an all-around team effort.”
On Saturday, sophomore hurler Lindsey Correa (10-7) took an early exit after senior catcher Brooke LeSage hit a two-run homer off of her in the first inning. Long Beach was not done, however, as junior third baseman Jennifer Griffin, the next batter, went deep against sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (7-8) to give the 49ers a 3-0 lead. Each team then scored two runs in the fourth, including a two-run homerun by Duran. Long Beach responded with a pair of runs in the fifth, while UCSB used some small ball to plate one run in its half. Junior centerfielder Tiffany Wright led off the sixth inning with a solo homer, followed by two errors on the 49er second baseman which led to two more runs. Long Beach would be victorious as freshman pitcher Brooke Turner (21-4), who had the nation’s best ERA a week ago, took the win, despite allowing an uncharacteristic three runs.
“We weren’t trying to pay attention to the hype,” Galicinao said. “But we know that [Turner] has had success, so it was good for us to be able to come back and score a lot of runs against their best pitcher.”
Game two began with six scoreless innings of a pitchers’ duel between Gaucho junior Tami Weston (8-5) and the 49ers’ sophomore Bridgette Pagano (12-8). Senior shortstop Jessica Beaver ruined Weston’s three-hitter with a two-run homerun in the seventh followed by a two-run double from Griffin and a RBI single by Pagano. In the bottom half, UCSB scored two runs of its own off a sacrifice and a RBI triple from senior catcher Ericka Hansen, but it was not enough, as Long Beach earned the win 5-2.
The series wrapped up with a back-and-forth contest on Sunday beginning with a solo homerun off Griffin’s bat that was answered by Duran’s homer in the second inning. UCSB added two more in the third, when sophomore first baseman Jessica Ziegler hit a sac fly to bring in senior left fielder Nicole Churnock, who led off with a double, and Wright singled another home. The 49ers plated four runs in the fourth, while Santa Barbara took advantage of two errors and a Wright double to score five in the bottom half. Long Beach got two more in the fifth, but Weston earned her first save of the season in relief of Matsumoto, who notched the win.
“Tami, after [Saturday’s] seventh inning, came back and kept her composure,” Galicinao said. “She went in there with a plan this time, and she looked good, so I think that’s a great success. And I’m looking forward to seeing that for the rest of the games she throws.”
This Saturday, UCSB travels north to begin a three-game series with its new conference opponent, UC Davis.