After a disappointing series loss to UC Davis last weekend, the UCSB softball team returns home for a three game series against rival Cal Poly this weekend. The loss against Davis cost the Gauchos control of the No. 1 spot in the Big West, a ranking they will continue to compete for in the final homestand of the regular season.
“[Cal Poly] plays pretty straight up softball,” senior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “They’re always good competition considering it’s Blue-Green rivalry. I think we’re really prepared, especially after facing Davis last weekend.”
With two conference series remaining, UCSB sits in fourth place with a 24-28 overall record and a 9-6 conference record, two games behind Long Beach State and Pacific. Cal Poly enters Campus Diamond in seventh place at 12-31 overall and 4-11 in conference.
The Gauchos honor five seniors in their final home games: DePompa, outfielder Allison Taylor, outfielder Brooke Putich, utility Jenny Liepman, and pitcher Krista Cobb. DePompa leads the team in home runs (5) and is second on the team in slugging percentage (.401). Taylor leads the Gauchos in RBI (22) and is right behind DePompa in slugging percentage
(.366). “I couldn’t ask for a better
group of seniors to play with,” sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil said. “This program means so much to them. They really showed us what Gaucho softball is all about.”
In last weekend’s series, the Gauchos dropped two out of three games by a combined total of three runs. The top performer for Santa Barbara was freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom, who set the school record for wins in a season (19) with her complete game in the series finale against Davis. Wisdom has been the best pitcher for the Gauchos all year long, leading the staff in ERA (2.52), complete games (23), innings pitched (227.2) and strikeouts (206).
Wisdom will have to find a way to subdue Cal Poly’s main offensive threat, sophomore shortstop Kim Westlund. As the leadoff hitter, Westlund is tops on the team in batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.450), hits (42) and RBIs (23). A consistent threat in the batter’s box, Westlund has hit safely in 31 games this season, including reaching base in 12 of the last 13 games. She also leads the team with 10 multi-hit games. “We need to come out, play our game
and not worry about what they’re doing,” Pilpil said. “If we just worry about Cal Poly, that’s just going to hold us back from beating them. If we play how we normally do and play relaxed and loose, we’ll be fine.”
The Mustangs have found success at Campus Diamond recently, winning three out of the last four series. However, the Gauchos are 13-6 at home this year and Cal Poly has yet to win a conference series on the road this season.
First pitch is set for Saturday at noon.