The UCSB softball team capped off its season with a serious bang, taking two out of three on the road from UC Davis to win the season series. The Gauchos split their pair of games with the Aggies on Friday by scores of 6-0 and 3-4, before taking the decisive game on Saturday 7-2.
“It feels great to take the series from Davis and end this season on a positive note,” junior infielder Jessica Beristianos said.
The series win for UCSB (15-37 overall, 6-15 Big West) marked the Gauchos’ second of the season. Even with the series loss to Santa Barbara, the Aggies (26-27, 15-6) finished the year tied for first place in the Big West, clinching an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Santa Barbara’s offense, which had been nonexistent last weekend when the squad was shut out by Pacific, came alive early on Saturday. With one out in the third inning, the Gauchos were able to load the bases with Beristianos coming to bat. The team’s leader in RBI connected with a timely grand slam that gave the Gauchos an early four-run lead.
“It felt great to hit that grand slam and get some early runs,” Beristianos said. “It definitely set the tone for the rest of the game and the rest of the weekend.”
Behind a complete game three-hit shutout by sophomore pitcher Krista Cobb, the Gauchos were able to take the first game on Friday from Davis 6-0. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Santa Barbara offense struck first again after a second-inning triple by senior infielder Jessica Ziegler drove in two runs to give the visiting Gauchos a 3-1 lead. From there, UCSB was unable to hang on to its lead as the Aggies battled back and eventually won the game after scoring one run in the bottom of the second inning and two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Determined to close out the series — and the season — on a high note, Santa Barbara entered Saturday’s final game focused and once again jumped out to an early lead on the Aggies. In the first inning, Ziegler led off the game with a bunt single, and reached second two outs later via her 21st steal of the season. Beristianos would drive her in from second with a single up the middle.
Santa Barbara remained in control of the game until Davis tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Aggies threatened to take the lead, but an inning-ending double play — a school record 23rd of the year — allowed the Gauchos to escape without further damage. In extra innings, UCSB would strike back. In a monster eighth inning, the Gauchos scored five runs to take a 7-2 lead and would ultimately go on to win by that count.
“As a team, we were really able to get our offense going by having some quality at-bats and getting a lot of runners on base,” Beristianos said.
Cobb earned the win for the Gauchos — her second of the series — to improve her record on the year to 8-13. Throughout the series, the 1-2 punch of Ziegler and Beristianos led the offensive onslaught for Santa Barbara. Ziegler batted .500 over the three games with three runs scored and two RBI, while Beristianos batted .600 with four runs scored and six RBI.
“We had many ups and downs and learned a lot throughout the entire season,” Beristianos said. “Ending this season with a series win is a great way to end this year and hopefully head into next year with an upswing.”