UCSB softball suffered back-to-back losses on the opening day of the Gaucho Classic, falling to Drexel 4-2 and North Dakota State 2-0 to extend its losing streak to eight games. The Gauchos have been shut out in four of the eight games during a streak dictated by struggles at the plate.
In the opening game Santa Barbara was down 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning until sophomore catcher Lainey DePompa launched a solo home run over the right center field fence to even the score. Drexel tacked on one run in the third and another in the fourth inning to increase its lead to 3-1. The Gauchos cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth when sophomore left fielder Brooke Puticho singled to score third basemen Jessica Beristianos.
The Dragons earned an insurance run in the top of the seventh when catcher Ashley Botelho scored on a groundout by center fielder Laura Stagliano. With one last chance at a comeback, Drexel pitcher Hillary Allen worked around a leadoff single by Putich to retire the Gauchos in the bottom of the seventh to secure the 4-2 victory.
“We can’t let [losses] get us down,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “You have to go after it, not just wait for something good to happen.”
Against North Dakota State Santa Barbara mustered only one hit, a single by senior first baseman Jessica Ziegler in the third inning. Ziegler reached base in all her at bats, but the Gauchos failed to manufacture any runs.
Despite the cold hitting, UCSB kept the game close throughout behind a strong pitching performance from senior starter MeLinda Matsumoto.
Matsumoto did not allow a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning when North Dakota State first basemen Melissa Chmielewski knocked a line drive to right-center field. Bisons catcher Maryssa McKenzie followed it up with a towering home run to give her team a 2-0 lead.
North Dakota State pitcher Whitney Johnson more than matched Matsumoto’s brilliance, allowing zero runs in her seven innings of work while striking out 13 batters.
Santa Barbara has four remaining games in the Gaucho Classic beginning tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. against Wisconsin.