In its final series of the season, the UCSB softball team completed a sweep of Cal State Northridge this past weekend to end on a seven-game winning streak. With first-place Long Beach State winning two out of three from Pacific, the Gauchos end the season in second place in Big West, one game behind Long Beach.
“They should be proud of what they did this past seven weeks,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said. “They came out and performed after starting the season 1-10. I’m proud of this season and they should be proud of what they did.”
UCSB ends the season 30-28 overall and 15-6 in conference. The Gauchos’ second-place finish matches its best result in history, and its conference record was a program best. Northridge finishes their season on an eight-game losing streak, 10-42 overall and 5-16 in conference.
Coming into Saturday’s final game still in contention to earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, Santa Barbara went up early in the first inning on junior shortstop Keilani Jennings’ two-run home run. Jennings’ seventh home run of the season was the most of any Gaucho this year. With the game 2-1 in the sixth inning, senior outfielder Brooke Putich singled with the bases loaded to add to the lead.
Freshman pitcher Shelby Wisdom, who went on to pitch all 21 innings of the series, struck out six batters and limited the Matadors to one run on three hits for a 4-1 win.
“We were engaged in the win; our defense made the plays and our offense adjusted,” senior catcher Lainey DePompa said. “We enjoyed each other and really playing together. Being present in the moment is what we did.”
The Gauchos had no trouble scoring runs in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. With the game scoreless, UCSB exploded in the fourth inning for a five-run inning. The Gauchos added on two extra runs in the seventh inning as Wisdom delivered her fifth home run of the season, a two-run blast over the left center field fence for a 7-0 win.
Friday’s first match saw Wisdom’s first collegiate no-hitter. Wisdom retired the first nine batters she faced in order as the Gaucho offense also struggled manufacturing a run. Not until the seventh were the Gauchos able to break through with RBI hits by junior outfielder Jessica Soria and sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil to win 2-0.
Only two Matador runners were able to reach base, both on fielding errors as Wisdom broke the school record for most strikeouts in a season in the process; she finished with 247 strikeouts on the season and 24 wins.
“We expected [Wisdom] to do great things before she got here and she lived up to those expectations,” Galicinao said. “She’s really matured over the course of the year. It’s exciting we still have another three years with her.”
With the season now over, the Gauchos will now turn their attention to next year where they will be lead by their two seniors, Jennings and Soria, and a talented supporting cast.