The UCSB softball team fell to Cal Poly 3-1 on Wednesday in their third and final matchup against its rival this season. The Gauchos travel to Long Beach State this weekend for three games against the 49ers.
The Gauchos are now 25-17 overall and 6-6 in the Big West. Cal Poly is 18-26 and 7-8 in conference games with the win.
“Today we didn’t hit very well but this weekend we will,” sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom said. “We are going to practice hard Thursday and Friday and prepare for Long Beach’s pitcher. We know what she has so we’ll work on it this week.”
UCSB and Cal Poly battled in two games last week, both of which went the Gauchos way. Today was a different story as UCSB continued to struggle putting up runs.
The Gauchos took the initial lead in the first inning when senior shortstop Keilani Jennings doubled to center field, bringing home senior centerfielder Jessica Soria.
A triple by Mustang freshman first baseman Breana West in the bottom of the first brought in junior shortstop Kim Westlund to tie it at 1-1.
Westlund, the team’s leader in RBI this year, continued to be the big hitter of the Mustang offense when she brought two runners in off a single in the bottom of the fourth. Cal Poly took a 3-1 lead and UCSB was unable to answer back, only getting one hit the rest of the game.
Cal Poly’s sophomore pitcher Jordan Yates controlled the Gauchos through all seven innings, giving up just four hits all game.
Her counterpart on the UCSB side, freshman Alex Pingree, was not able to follow-up her three straight shutout performances with another outstanding effort. Pingree, last week’s Big West Pitcher of the Week winner, gave up three runs off 11 hits in five innings before being replaced by Wisdom.
The Gauchos go back on the road this weekend for three games against third-place Big West opponent Long Beach State. The 49ers are 28-18 on the season and 9-5 in conference play.
UCSB will have to watch out for Long Beach State’s powerhouse of an offense, which ranks first in the Big West in batting average, with batters hitting at a .290 clip. The 49ers are second in the conference only to No. 20 Hawaii in home runs and runs scored with 37 and 205, respectively, and have three of the top nine slugging percentages.
The Gauchos will have to be especially wary of the sensational Darian Tautalafua, who leads the entire Big West in RBI this season with 37. The freshman right fielder hits at a .303 clip and a .574 slugging percentage, and is tied for third in the conference with nine home runs.
Complementing her offensively are junior utility Hannah De Gaetano, sophomore shortstop Shayna Kimbrough and junior catcher Karli Sandoval. De Gaetano is first in the Big West in batting average at .390 while Kimbrough ranks third herself at .373.
Sandoval is third in the Big West in RBI with 32, and she hits with a .544 slugging percentage herself.
The Gauchos’ offense on the other hand has struggled mightily as of late. Though they have won four of their last six games, they have only managed four runs in the last five games.
“In order to get more hits on the board we just need to find holes,” Wisdom said. “We need to hit the ball hard in the hole.”
UCSB will play LBSU at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and finish with a noon game on Sunday.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.