With 20 games remaining, the 15-18 Gauchos have already equaled the total number of games they won last season. But the games don’t stop, as UCSB softball heads to Cal Poly to take on the Mustangs.
Though Cal Poly’s record sits at 6-23 overall, it won its series against UC Riverside last weekend 2-1, while the Gauchos dropped theirs against Cal State Fullerton two games to one.
“I thought we did really well [this weekend],” said junior catcher Lainey DePompa. “We were aggressive and had good energy, but sometimes [the other team’s] going to score runs when it’s unexpected.”
Anna Cahn led the Mustangs’ attack against the Highlanders with two home runs and a batting average of .714, a slugging percentage of 1.571 and an on-base percentage of .818. Cahn, who received Big West Player of the Week honors after the series, leads the conference in home runs and slugging percentage.
“[Cahn’s] a big hitter and has a lot of power, but our pitchers have pitched against great hitters all year and we’ve been practicing in the outfield a lot,” said junior utility player Amanda Ziegler. “She’s a great player, definitely a threat.”
The responsibility of keeping Cahn in check will fall on Gaucho pitchers Andriana Collins and Krista Cobb. Last weekend, both Collins and Cobb managed five strikeouts in their starts, and in Monday’s first game against South Dakota, Collins recorded a season-high nine of them. Collins’ 80 strikeouts are good for fourth place in the Big West.
“Our pitchers are really throwing well,” said DePompa. “They’re doing a great job of keeping us in the games so that we can score runs.”
Cal Poly sophomore Rebecca Patton, who earned Big West Pitcher of the Week for her 0.50 ERA, will look to contain the Gauchos’ potent offense, which ranks third in the conference in batting average at .270 and second in runs scored, hits and RBI.
“We’re focusing on getting people on base, moving runners and having productive outs,” Ziegler said. “When we’re playing our best, we’re singling teams to death, so we’re going to focus on that.”
“They’re going to come to play,” DePompa added. “They’re going to scrap for the win and extra bases. We just have to be consistent and I think we’ll come out on top.”
Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the final game at noon on Sunday in San Luis Obispo.