The UCSB softball team started its season in winning fashion, as it was crowned tournament champions after a perfect 5-0 record at the Mardi Gras Classic in Louisiana this weekend to open the 2013 season.
The Gauchos started the tournament against Grambling State, easily defeating the Tigers 6-0. Thanks to a strong third inning, UCSB was able to take a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
Sophomore utility Shelby Wisdom opened the scoring with a two-run single, and sophomore second baseman Kathryn Pilpil also chipped in two RBI on a 3-3 batting day. Wisdom also got her first win of the season as pitcher, allowing only two hits in the season’s first shutout.
In its second match against Wichita State, UCSB found itself with an early 1-0 deficit, but again, thanks to a strong third inning, was able to take control.
Wisdom continued her overall dominance, racking up two RBI while also striking out seven batters and giving up no runs for the second straight game. Senior shortstop Keilani Jennings also earned two RBI on a double in the third inning. The Gauchos would win the game 7-1, scoring their most runs of the weekend.
The next game against tournament host Louisiana Monroe yielded more dominant play from UCSB. Taking control in the second inning, the Gauchos took a 3-1 lead and never had much to worry about after that.
Freshman catcher Samantha Stark chipped in with two RBI, and Wisdom would make it three straight games with an RBI. Freshman pitcher Alex Pingree got her first career start and win, striking out four batters and only giving up one run. Louisiana Monroe would hurt itself late, allowing runs to Jennings and Pilpil off errors on their way to a 6-1 loss.
The fourth game of the tournament came against Northwestern State, and once again the story was much the same as Santa Barbara won 5-0.
Wisdom pitched another shutout, and freshman right fielder Arianna Palomares continued a strong start to her season, going 3-4 with a RBI. Junior infielder Lauren Boser led the team with two RBI, and Jennings gave the Gauchos their first home run of the season with a solo homer in the sixth inning.
The fifth game of the tournament against Mississippi Valley State would prove to be the Gauchos’ biggest challenge of the weekend. A couple of doubles in the second and third innings by Mississippi Valley State seniors Nicole Burr and Alexandria Robertson would give the Devilettes a 3-1 lead, but UCSB would come storming back late.
With two outs in the fifth inning, a triple by Palomares and a home run by Wisdom would tie the game at 3-3. In the sixth inning, Boser and Stark would score on errors and a single by Jennings would bring senior outfielder Jessica Soria in for her second run of the game. Junior pitcher Andriana Collins earned her first win of the season as the Gauchos gave up no runs in the final inning, winning 6-3.
After the final game against Southeast Missouri State was canceled due to rain, a 5-0 record meant UCSB was named tournament champions. Boser, Jennings, Soria and Wisdom were all named to the All-Tournament team and Wisdom was named tournament MVP after leading the team with seven RBI and 20 strikeouts.
The Gauchos come back home to host the Gaucho Classic next weekend at Campus Diamond.