After UCSB softball won the first game of its preseason schedule against Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 9  – 12-9 in 12 innings – the Gauchos welcome College of the Canyons and Cuesta College in a two-match set this Saturday. With all of the Gauchos’ preseason games played on campus, the team has the advantage of not having to leave Santa Barbara this early in the year.

“It’s nice getting to sleep in your own bed on game night,” junior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “We like not having to ride in a bus for a couple hours.”

During the Gaucho’s first game, they batted through the order. This game will likely follow the same format because the preseason slate of games against junior colleges allows Coach Brie Galicinao to experiment with rosters and positions.

“We are looking forward to more live pitching and actual game time,” said DePompa.

College of the Canyons, which went 28-13 overall in 2009, plans to play all freshman and sophomores when it comes to town. Sophomore infielder Ruby Herrera is a leader for the Cougars after hitting .389 last year.

Cuesta College (16-21-1 overall in 2009) finished in fourth place in the Western State Conference in the 2010 season. Sophomore outfielder Laura Haines is one of the leading returners on the Cougar offense. She started all 38 games and hit for .365 last year. The Gauchos have been practicing this week preparing for these two games.

“We had a bunch of great practices this week and [we] looked very sharp,” said DePompa. “We also had some great weight and conditioning sessions.”

UCSB finished last season with a 15-37 overall mark and a 6-15 Big West record and are looking forward to a big season.

“These games are important for us to get to know each other better. The better prepared we are for spring, the better we will perform from the beginning,” said DePompa.