After a dominant weekend at the Mardi Gras Classic which saw the UCSB softball team off to a 5-0 start to the season, the Gauchos will look to continue their hot play when they host the Gaucho Classic this weekend. Their first homestand will have them playing once against Fresno State and twice against both Missouri and San Diego.

While the Gauchos found great success on the road last weekend, they are looking forward to playing on their home field in front of their fans for the first time in 2013.

“We’re playing some good competition this weekend and it will be a good test for us,” second baseman Kathryn Pilpil said. “Overall, I think this is going to be an exciting weekend to be back home playing on Campus Diamond.”

The Gauchos open up their five-game homestand against Missouri, in what is the Tigers’ first game of the season. With Missouri boasting the talents of two-time All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Chelsea Thomas, the Gauchos will have to be on their mark offensively if they are going to start the weekend off right. However, their overall togetherness and solid team play has made them a confident unit.

“Everyone is contributing to the team wins which is really great. We have a strong pitching staff, strong and consistent hitting and strong defense,” Pilpil said. “It’s amazing to look at our team now and know that there is so much room for us to grow as a team as the season goes on.”

In its next game against San Diego (1-1), UCSB will be looking to erase memories of a 5-1 loss to the Toreros in last year’s Gaucho Classic.

Against Fresno State (6-1), UCSB will be up against an opponent that has dominated them historically in the all-time series 62-11. However, the Gauchos can look to a 2-1 victory against the Bulldogs last season to give them confidence in this matchup.

After last weekend’s games gave UCSB its first real look at what it will be capable of this season, the team seems content with the level of play right now on both sides of the ball.

“The team was very consistent on the offense as well as the defense, from putting up a lot of hits to having solid defense and turning double plays,” Pilpil said. “You could just tell the team dynamic is really coming together and it was definitely exciting to watch.”

Sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom is off to a great start this season after throwing two shutouts in two starts while also leading the team with seven RBI and one home run. She was named tournament MVP of the Mardi Gras Classic.

Junior infielder Lauren Boser, senior shortstop Keilani Jennings and senior outfielder Jessica Soria are all off to hot starts as well, as they were named to the All-Tournament Team along with Wisdom.

Despite the overall youth of the UCSB squad, which has seven freshman, they have fit in well under the guidance of the team’s veterans.

“Even though our team is young, they are doing a really good job by stepping up to the competition and taking on any role that is given to them,” Pilpil said. “Our upper class has really helped them get ready and feel comfortable out on the field. We’re all working together which is a huge part of it.”

The Gauchos will play Missouri at 8:30 a.m. and San Diego at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Then, they face Fresno State at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and again play Missouri at 9:00 a.m. along with San Diego at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Campus Diamond.

A version of this article appeared on page 5 of February 15th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.