The UCSB softball team travels to Davis this weekend to take on the first-place Aggies in the team’s final series of the season.
“Though this season is not ending the way we had originally planned, we are ready to go into Davis and give them a fight,” junior infielder Jessica Beristianos said.
Santa Barbara (13-36 overall, 4-14 Big West) is coming off three consecutive losses at home to Pacific, while UC Davis (25-25 overall, 14-4 Big West) is currently riding a seven-game winning streak dating back to April 28. The Aggies could wrap up the Big West’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a series win over the Gauchos.
Davis junior Alex Holmes — the reigning Big West Pitcher and Player of the Week — leads the Aggies with a .350 batting average and a 2.92 ERA. Holmes is currently undefeated in Big West league games, at a perfect 8-0.
Underdogs on paper, the Gauchos are hardly intimidated — the team is determined to finish out the season strong and on a positive note.
“We are going into this weekend playing for pride and to represent Gaucho softball,” Beristianos said. “It would be great to take a few games from Davis and really make them earn their league title.”
UCSB leads the all-time series against UCD 12-4 and won last year’s series 3-0. The Gauchos have never been swept by the Aggies and have once dropped a series to them. If Santa Barbara is to have a shot they will certainly need a jolt offensively after being shut out in three consecutive games by Pacific last weekend. Key contributors, senior Jessica Ziegler and Beristianos will need to perform well for the Gauchos to generate runs.
“It is definitely very important for us to get runners on early in the game,” Beristianos said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the game and puts more pressure on the defense.”
Ziegler has done a phenomenal job as the lead-off hitter for the Gauchos in her final year at UCSB. She currently leads the team and is fourth in the Big West with 53 hits, ranks second in stolen bases with 19 and is seventh in the conference with a .329 batting average.
As the Gauchos’ team captain, Beristianos has not disappointed on the field. She currently leads the team with seven RBIs in Big West play. Her 10 doubles are fifth in conference, and her 21 walks are good for eighth in conference.
“This weekend, we mainly just want to fight hard and enjoy the game. It would also be great to get some wins and send off our seniors on a positive note,” Beristianos added.