After a historic weekend in Arizona that saw the first perfect game in program history, the UCSB softball team looks to extend their four-game winning streak at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego this weekend. The Gauchos (4-0 overall) will face the likes of #8 Stanford, #10 Washington, and #24 San Diego State during the four-day classic.
“We are looking to take away some of those games and surprising some teams out there because we do believe that we can compete with other teams that are ranked,” said junior outfielder Priscilla Perez said. “It’s really a great opportunity to test our strengths. … We were so bummed at not getting to play #7 Arizona [last weekend] because we wanted to see where we were at.”
While the quality of opposition certainly has risen, UCSB’s pitching staff just might be up to the challenge. Coupled with her perfect game against Wagner, freshman right-hander Krista Cobb also held a Wichita State squad to one hit in two innings pitched, turning a 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 comeback win. In nine total innings pitched, Cobb has allowed runners on only twice and has struck out 11 of the 28 hitters she’s faced.
While the freshman phenom has caught the eyes of many, the rest of the lineup turned in solid performances at the Kajikawa Classic. Senior Tami Weston and junior MeLinda Matsumoto hold identical 2.57 ERAs with a complete game each and have held hitters to .250 hitting. As a team, the Gauchos have only surrendered nine runs this season, in part due to Cobb’s spectacular performance against Wagner.
Though Santa Barbara’s pitching has been their strength thus far, UCSB has produced runs in hurry when needed. The Gaucho’s 28 runs over four games ranks first in the Big West and is due in large part to a pair of youngsters. Freshman Shortstop Keilani Jennings leads Santa Barbara with eight RBI and three homers, while sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos posted seven RBI and two home runs over opening weekend. The two underclassmen share identical .417 batting averages and have accounted for nine of UCSB’s 28 total runs. Freshman utility Amanda Ziegler, younger sister to Gaucho junior infielder Jessica Ziegler, has been having trouble hitting herself with surprising back-to-back dingers against Wichita State.
“Our hitting’s doing great as it did last year, and that’s what we were expecting,” Perez said. Our pitching staff is working together well, so I’m really looking forward to this next weekend because want to get some ‘W’s.”
Waiting for the red-hot Gauchos come Thursday will be the #8 Stanford Cardinal (4-1), a team that offers one of the nation’s best pitchers in senior hurler Missy Penna. Over 23 innings pitched, Penna has held hitters to a .092 average, surrendering only seven hits while striking out 39. Penna also leads her team with a remarkable 0.61 ERA over a 3-1 start. Behind the plate, junior catcher Rosey Neill is hitting .500 with three home runs and seven RBI over 12 at-bats.
UCSB will kick off the Campbell/Cartier Classic at 4:30 p.m. tonight against Stanford, followed by matchups with Washington, Utah State, Long Beach State and San Diego State over the course of the classic. The Gauchos will close out the event with a rematch against the Cardinal at 9 a.m. on Sunday.