After surrendering a season-high 10 runs in the final inning of game two, the UCSB softball team took the rubber match against conference foe UC Riverside for a 2-1 series win. Apart from winning their first Big West series over the Spring Break holiday, the Gauchos (18-13 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) split a two game series at #5 UCLA before coming home to convincingly sweep a doubleheader with Santa Clara.
UCSB came out strong in the first game against the Highlanders (12-20, 1-2), with freshman phenom Krista Cobb throwing another complete game, her eighth of the year, while allowing only one run on four hits. Cobb struggled with her control in the first inning, allowing Riverside’s only run to plate due to a wild pitch, but settled down to strike out the next two batters. Fellow freshman Amanda Ziegler got the scoring started for Santa Barbara in the bottom of the first, belting a two-run double through the infield to score older sister Jessica Ziegler and senior Christine Ramos. The younger Ziegler stayed hot well into the third inning, doubling senior outfielder Tiffany Wright home from second before heading home herself after an RBI-single from sophomore outfielder Katie McWhirter. Riverside tightened defensively after that, but couldn’t score a run themselves and dropped game one to the home team 4-1.
Game two seemed to unfold exactly as the first one had, with Santa Barbara jumping on top early, and Riverside struggling to connect with Gaucho pitching, but someone forgot to tell the Highlanders when they were supposed to quit. Down 4-1 going into the seventh and final inning, Riverside exploited three costly Santa Barbara errors and exploded for 10 runs, more than enough to turn the three-run deficit into a seven-run lead. Even more amazing was they cashed in seven of those ten runs against Cobb, the very same pitcher who baffled them not hours before. Understandably, UCSB simply could not come back late after the unexpected turn of events and lost 11-5. Santa Barbara blew a particularly solid outing by senior hurler Tami Weston, who went five innings with one run allowed on three hits. It was the Gauchos’ first loss at home this season.
“Going into the second game,” sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos said, “the momentum definitely carried over after winning that first game. In the seventh inning, things didn’t go as we planned… it was just a lot of little things that got out of control. It just didn’t go our way.”
Still reeling after snatching defeat from the clutches of victory the previous day, UCSB took Campus Diamond Sunday afternoon with vindication on its mind. Riverside got on the board first with a run in the third, but Santa Barbara played a bit of small ball to score two in the bottom of the fourth and take a narrow 2-1 lead. After Wright scored on a throwing error, junior outfielder Priscilla Perez sac flied to right to bring Ziegler home.
Perez would come up big again in this low-scoring affair, slamming an RBI double to score sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos from second. UCSB would hang on to win 3-1 in large part to Cobb, who came in relief for the final four innings, redeeming herself with only three hits and no runs.
“We definitely came back [on Sunday] and showed them who we are,” said Beristianos. “We took it straight to them and proved that we’re winners here.”
In other Spring Break action, UCSB split two games with the Daughters of Westwood, beating the Bruins (26-6) 7-2 after suffering an 8-0 mercy in the previous game. Beristianos led all batters with three RBI in three at bats, one of three different Gauchos to finish the game with two or more runs batted in.
The following weekend, Santa Barbara dominated visiting Santa Clara 6-0 and 7-2 in a pair of games that were just as lopsided as the scores suggest.