Coming off a three-game sweep of UC Davis last week, the UCSB softball team hopes to keep their momentum going during their final regular season series against Cal State Fullerton this weekend at Campus Diamond. Following their most prolific offensive performance of the season, the Gauchos (26-22, 9-9 in Big West) look to bury a Titan (26-19, 14-4) offense that ranks next to last in the conference with a team average of .240.
“I’m feeling really confident,” said freshman utility Amanda Zeigler. “We’re playing really well right now. We just need to take this energy and take it to the next weekend.”
Offensive consistency has not been Fullerton’s calling card in 2009, and yet the Titans are still second in the conference at 14-4. This is in part due to the outrageous home run production the Titan’s have enjoyed this far, topping the conference with 38 dingers (Cal Poly is second with 29). Leading the way for CSUF is junior infielder Francesca Gonzales, whose .311 average and 10 home runs are both team-highs. Sophomore outfielder Torrie Anderson has been productive for the Titans as well with a team-best 30 RBI and nine four-baggers of her own. Sophomore hurler Ari Cervantes, whose 2.09 ERA ranks seventh among Big West pitchers, spearheads Fullerton’s middle-of-the-road staff. The Tustin, CA native is 17-10 on the year with 25 complete games, while batters are hitting .234 against her.
Sunday’s finale against Fullerton is also senior day for four Santa Barbara veterans, including infielder Christine Ramos, pitcher Tami Weston, and outfielders Tiffany Wright and Jackie Conlin. Ramos will leave UCSB as the program’s all-time hits leader with 246 career connections, and should she finish the 2009 campaign leading in hits, the Long Beach native will become the only Gaucho ever to do so for four straight years. After garnering Big West Field Player of the Year in a breakout junior year, Wright has come on strong late this season, leading the team in RBI with 37. With 12 RBI of her own, Conlin has consistently been a threat on the base paths, stealing 11 thus far with a .325 on-base percentage. Rounding out the graduating class is Weston, who is 2-3 with a 3.61 ERA in more of a reserve role this year.
While part of the program’s successful past will leave when the year is done, the future of UCSB softball looks bright at present. Freshman phenom Krista Cobb has already tied the single season wins record of 18 with two victories over Davis and owns a 1.82 ERA in 31 appearances. Cobb leads the Gauchos in both complete games (16) and strikeouts (109) with batters hitting .200 against her. The Santa Barbara youth has solidly produced runs as well, with sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos and Amanda Zeigler combining for 58 RBIs on 79 hits.
The Gauchos and Titans begin their series at Campus Diamond with a doubleheader this Saturday starting at 12 p.m., followed by the rubber match on Sunday, same time. Admission for students and UCSB faculty is free.