Already with one Big West series under their belt, the UCSB softball team entered last weekend’s series with Central-Coast rival Cal Poly with great expectations. However, the hot-hitting Mustangs took no heed and broke out the brooms for a three-game sweep of the visiting Gauchos (18-16 overall, 2-4 in Big West), including a marathon 6-5 game-three win that spanned 11 innings.
Cal Poly (25-9, 4-2) set the tone early against freshman right-hander Krista Cobb, bruising the three-time Big West Pitcher of the Week for four runs before she registered three outs. In one of her most disappointing starts of the season, Cobb was pulled after lasting only two-thirds of an inning, and was replaced by junior MeLinda Matsumoto who looked to calm things down. An unfazed Mustang squad did eventually take the field in the second, but not before hammering Matsumoto for four runs as well, giving sophomore starter Anna Cahn more than enough leeway to work with. Freshman infielder Amanda Zeigler started the second off right with a double to center, and after fellow freshman Lainey DePompa walked, was sent home courtesy of senior Jackie Conlin’s two-RBI double. Senior infielder Christine Ramos singled to bring Conlin home, but UCSB could not shrink the deficit any further, ending the inning with the score 8-3. The Mustangs would add four more runs to their total before game’s end, and withstood a two-run fifth by Santa Barbara to hold on for the 12-5 win. Conlin and Ramos would finish a combined four of six on the day with three RBI in a losing effort.
“They had a lot of momentum,” said Matsumoto. “I came in with two outs and unfortunately wasn’t able to stop the bleeding … we just were not catching the breaks [in the first inning].”
If the first game was a showcase of Cal Poly’s dominance behind the plate, the second game surely did the same for their pitching. Junior left-hander Helen Penna pitched a complete game shutout en-route to a 6-0 Cal Poly win. Penna, who improved her team-leading ERA to 1.69, allowed only six hits from the Gauchos while her team scored pairs of runs in the second, third and fifth innings.
UCSB looked to make it a series in game three, yet it would be Cal Poly who walked away with another win at the end of 11 the following day. The Mustangs, who had not lost a game at Bob Janssen field since May 2008, seemed to have control yet again with a 4-2 lead going into the fifth. However, with two on and two out, Amanda Zeigler would provide timely hitting yet again for the Gauchos, smoking a line drive down the right field line for an RBI. In the next at-bat, junior outfielder Pricilla Perez recorded a two-RBI single to right as well, giving the Gauchos their first lead of the series at 5-4. Unfortunately it would not last, with Cal Poly tying it up at 5-5 in the sixth, setting up five scoreless innings between the two rivals. While Matsumoto fought valiantly during her 10 and a third performance, she would be undone by her counterpart Cahn, who earned the win and her 17th complete game.
“I just went out there and gave it everything I could,” said Matsumoto. “There was nothing more that I could do. I left everything on the field, my teammates supported me while we were on defense. We had runners on in almost every inning and just couldn’t get that hit.”