Despite entering the weekend with bragging rights on the line, the slumping UCSB softball team fared no better than in its previous Big West outing as central coast rival Cal Poly brought the brooms to Campus Diamond. The northern neighbors swept the Gauchos (9-28 overall, 0-6 in Big West) in their second conference series. UCSB managed only two runs over the three-game homestand, while watching its losing streak stretch to 11. Mustang (15-17, 4-2) junior starter Anna Cahn headlined the proceedings with two consecutive complete game shutouts, giving up only six hits.
“We knew we were going to have to be patient,” junior infielder Jessica Beristianos said. “They weren’t going to supply a lot of power, so we knew we were going to have to hit through the ball and focus on hitting it up the middle.”
UCSB put together its most successful offensive outing in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader, but unfortunately for the Santa Barbara faithful, so did Cal Poly. The Mustangs jumped out to a 2-0 advantage after two innings of play, but the home team was able to scratch across one in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice by junior outfielder Katie McWhirter. UCSB equalized in the next inning when senior infielder Jessica Ziegler scored freshman infielder Keilani Jennings from second, but the 2-2 tie would only last until the top of the sixth when Mustang sophomore infielder Kendal Hennings blasted a solo shot to dead center field. The Mustangs added four more runs for good measure before the frame ended, blemishing an otherwise stellar outing for senior starter MeLinda Matsumoto, who had only allowed two runs on five hits up to that point. UCSB simply could not muster enough offense even to dent the visitor’s 7-2 advantage, managing only three more hits the rest of the way. Freshman Rebecca Patton earned her fourth win of the year for Cal Poly, allowing two runs on 10 hits while striking out four.
In Saturday’s second game, UCSB again got respectable work from its starter but simply could not solve Cahn to give senior pitcher Lindsey Correa any run support. Both teams went scoreless through three until Cal Poly broke the game open in the fourth with another bomb from Hennings, this time a two-run shot to left. Mustang senior infielder Krysten Cary promptly followed suit with a homer of her own to left, putting the visitors up 3-0. While the Mustangs eventually added two more, that initial 3-0 advantage was more than enough for Cahn, who allowed only two hits and no walks while fanning five for her 12th complete game of the year. Correa lasted six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with no strikeouts.
Sunday’s rubber match played out like an eerie replay of Saturday’s second contest, with both teams registering a scoreless first three before Cal Poly edged away. While the Mustangs put one on the board in the fourth, the real breakout was executed in the fifth when Mustang senior catcher Sara Kryza pummeled a three-run dinger to left. Cal Poly added one more to finish with 5-0 final score. Cahn bested Correa again for her 13th shutout, allowing no runs on four hits.
“We’ve actually been doing pretty well [offensively],” Beristianos said. “We’ve been getting a lot of runners on, starting rallies, making the defense play catch, putting the ball in play, we’re just missing that big break.”
UCSB hits the road for its next two Big West series’ starting with UC Riverside next weekend.