For the third consecutive Sunday, the UC Santa Barbara softball team managed to avoid a sweep with offense and stellar pitching.
At La Rue Field in Davis, Calif. on Saturday, UCSB (26-22 overall, 9-6 in the Big West) fell 2-1 in its first meeting with UC Davis and then dropped game two 4-1. The Gauchos responded the following afternoon with a first-inning rally to take the 6-2 victory from the Aggies (22-31 overall, 7-8 in the Big West) in the final contest.
“We weren’t able to get the key hits in the first couple games,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “And without reading too much into it, we found a way to score in the third game. In the first and third games, they threw a ground ball pitcher, so we were really pounding the ball into the ground, but we made adjustments, as the team has shown they can, and we got on [on Sunday].”
The Aggies established an early 1-0 lead with some small-ball in the first inning of game one. Davis added another run in the second off a RBI double, but from that point forward, sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (7-9), who took the loss, would give up just three hits. Santa Barbara got just one run in two separate bases-loaded situations, and left a total of nine runners on base in the game. Aggie junior hurler Jessica Hancock (15-18) allowed one unearned run, seven hits and struck out three runners.
“Their pitchers did a good job of bearing down when we had the bases loaded or runners in scoring position,” Galicinao said. “We had a decent amount of hits, but we just couldn’t string them together, and they were keeping us off balance.”
The second game featured another strong pitching performance for UC Davis as freshman Alex Holmes (7-13) went the distance and gave up just one run. On the Gaucho mound, junior hurler Tami Weston (8-6) lasted just two thirds of the first inning, prompting a relief appearance by Matsumoto. The one run charged to Weston held up until the fifth, when three Aggie singles and a double-steal with one out and a walk resulted in three more runs. Santa Barbara’s lone score came in the sixth after a lead-off double by junior centerfielder Tiffany Wright and a RBI ground-out by freshman shortstop Jessica Beristianos. UCSB had two singles in the seventh, but the runners would not come around, as a flyout ended the contest. Junior second baseman Christine Ramos, who finished the series with six hits, went three-for-three in the game.
“[Ramos] was great bunting it, slapping it and hitting for power,” Galicinao said. “She had great reads on defense, and she was finally not hitting it at people.”
In the first inning of the series finale, Ramos led off with a bunt single, stole second and then came home on an error. Wright would single and eventually two more runs would come home off RBI by senior third baseman Tisha Duran and senior catcher Ericka Hansen. UCSB extended its advantage in the third when sophomore first baseman Jessica Ziegler mirrored Ramos with a single and stolen base followed by back-to-back RBI doubles from Wright and Duran. UC Davis stayed close with a two-run homer by sophomore first baseman Erin Emde in the fourth, but strong pitching from Weston and Matsumoto kept the Aggies scoreless for the final three innings. Weston atoned for her Saturday struggles by allowing just two runs on six hits, while fanning three Aggies in game three.
“[Matsumoto] did a good job of working her pitches on Saturday, and [Weston] did a good job coming back on Sunday,” Galicinao said. “They work well together, and they have both been throwing well, so we’re really just using whatever works.”
The Gauchos return to Campus Diamond for their final homestand of the season against Pacific this coming Saturday.