After earning narrow one-run victories in both of Saturday’s games, the UCSB softball team broke out the big bats and brooms Sunday, knocking out visiting UC Davis in a 12-run first inning, resulting in a 12-0 mercy win at Campus Diamond. In the series’ rubber match, the Gauchos (26-22 overall, 9-9 in Big West) earned their most lopsided victory of the season, with eight of their nine starters each posting at least one RBI.
“I think we were due,” said freshman utility Amanda Ziegler. “We’ve been playing well, we’ve been working really hard in practice; I think we just finally did it, just came out ready to play.”
With two of the better staffs in the Big West, Santa Barbara and Davis (21-30, 5-13) looked to compete in three fairly low-scoring affairs, and for the first two games they did.
Senior hurler Jessica Hancock was extremely effective for the Aggies in game one, tossing four solid innings of relief in which she gave up only one hit and a walk. However, UCSB had already plated three runs during the two innings prior, two of which were ushered in by senior outfielder Tiffany Wright’s seventh homer of the year. Fellow senior outfielder Jackie Conlin was able to scratch one across in the second, stretching the Gaucho lead to 3-0 before Hancock stepped in to stop the bleeding.
Freshman Krista Cobb took advantage of the early lead and Davis never gained any consistency at the plate, allowing only two runs on six hits for her 16th complete game. Cobb improved to 17-8 on the year with the win, becoming the program’s winningest rookie pitcher in the process.
“[Cobb]’s doing amazing,” said Ziegler. “She just pitches her game every game. She goes out hard and throws her pitches … She’s just really good. She’s doing fantastic.”
Game two played out according to a similar low-scoring script, with Conlin’s RBI single to center in the fifth proving to be the difference in UCSB’s 1-0 win. Sophomore utility Alex Holmes tried her hand at the mound for Davis and pitched surprisingly well, allowing only one run on six hits with only one walk. On this day however, she would be out-dueled by underutilized junior Lindsey Correa, who four-hit the Aggies in only her third complete game of 2009.
“I think I was just hitting my spots,” said Correa. “I came out really excited, hadn’t been out in a while, so I was pretty jacked to be starting.”
UCSB completed the three-game sweep over Davis in remarkable fashion, blowing out the visibly stunned Aggies by driving in a season-high 12 runs in the match’s first inning alone. Hancock, who had pitched brilliantly in game one, simply could not get out of the first inning as Santa Barbara went through almost two full lineup rotations before three outs were recorded.
Senior infielder Christine Ramos began her perfect 3-3 day with a single that seemingly tip-toed along the first-base line. Two batters later, Wright sent Ramos home with an RBI double that sailed over the left-fielder’s head and into the wall. Sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos reached first on an error by the shortstop, and then was quickly moved over by Amanda Ziegler’s bunt, which loaded the bases. Sophomore outfielder Katie McWhirter brought Wright home with a single, stretching the Gaucho lead to 2-0. Adding injury to insult, Wright’s feet-first collision with freshman catcher Rachel Miller led to Miller’s early exit with an injured left leg. Both Conlin and junior catcher Kelsey Anderson singled to bring in a run apiece after play resumed, stretching the lead to 4-0 before freshman outfielder Brooke Putich grounded out on a sac-RBI that put UCSB up 5-0.
Even with two outs, Santa Barbara refused to cool off. The home-team’s lineup first three hitters reached base yet again, setting the table for Beristianos’ two-RBI double to make it 9-0. At this point, Holmes took the mound for Hancock and promptly gave up a three-run blast by Amanda Ziegler, her fourth of the year. McWhirter finally flied out to end the inning, but the damage had been done.
“[The home run was] really good,” said Ziegler. “I was just looking for a good pitch to hit, and she threw me one. Just got to take advantage.”
UCSB barely broke a sweat for the game’s remainder, earning the mercy-rule victory in the bottom of the fifth. In her second start of the series, Cobb went all five innings and allowed only one hit and one walk, tying the program record for victories in a season in the process.