After being convincingly swept by Long Beach State last weekend, the UCSB softball team remains on the road for a three-game series against Pacific this weekend. The Gauchos (21-21 overall, 4-8 in Big West) take an 0-6 Big West road record with them up to Stockton, as well as a four-game losing streak that has left them tied for sixth place in conference.
“A lot of the time we’ve just been pressing, we’re trying to make this big name for ourselves because we’ve done so well in the past,” said junior outfielder Pricilla Perez. “But we’ve been a little timid going out there…and I feel we’re over that now. We just want to go out there, have fun, let the game come to us, and do the little things we know how to do instead of looking [at our record].”
To break the streak, Santa Barbara will most likely need to take advantage of a Tiger (16-27, 1-11) staff that has been giving up just over four runs per game. Pacific ranks next to last in the conference in team ERA (at 3.44), a statistic that has undoubtedly played a large part in earning them the conference’s worst record. Freshman hurler Gabby McDaniel leads the Tigers with a team-low 2.89 ERA and a 2-9 record, with opposing batters hitting .253 against her. The Tigers use only three other pitchers alongside Matson, and all three of them have an ERA above 3.20.
Offensively, Pacific makes up for shortcomings on the mound with the conference’s third-best hitting. With a team average of .281, the Tigers have posted 162 runs in 43 games, due in part to sophomore shortstop Nicole Matson’s production at the plate. Matson leads Pacific with a .356 average, 29 RBI on 36 hits and an on-base percentage of .440. The sophomore is also tied for the team lead in home runs with four to her name thus far.
For UCSB, consistent hitting has been their calling card all season long, and no one player embodies that philosophy more than senior infielder Christine Ramos. Ramos, who already broke the program’s all-time hits mark earlier this year, leads the Big West with a .396 average in 149 at-bats. The senior ranks second on the squad in on-base percentage with a .443 mark, and has recorded 18 RBI. As a team, the Gauchos are hitting .285 on the year, and are averaging just over four runs a game.
Toeing the rubber for UCSB will most likely be freshman Krista Cobb, who remains just three wins away from becoming the program’s winningest first-year pitcher ever. Cobb leads the team with a 2.11 ERA and a 14-7 record with 83 strikeouts, as well as having pitched 12 complete games. In contrast to Cobb’s obvious success, junior MeLinda Matsumoto has been throwing exceptional outings as of late, but hasn’t gotten the win in many of them. Matsumoto is 2-8 on the year with a 3.24 ERA and four complete games.
“I think [Matsumoto] is doing a great job,” said Perez. “She’s coming in, starting all series…she sets the tone for us. Yeah, we haven’t come out and pull out those ‘W’s, but the way she carries herself on the field, we’re all confident in her because she’s confident in herself.”