The UCSB softball team played its final games of the season this past weekend, taking two out of three home games against UC Riverside.
The Gauchos end the season with the third-best record in the Big West at 31-24 overall and 12-12 in conference play. The Highlanders finished out the season in last place with a 20-35 overall record and a 4-20 Big West mark.
“We did really well this weekend,” senior centerfielder Jessica Soria said. “Coming off a tough loss against Hawaii, we came back to play Riverside and even though they got [the last] game, we fought pretty hard and we took the series.”
Soria and senior shortstop Keilani Jennings came out in the first inning of their final games as Gauchos and provided their team with a memorable moment. Soria led off with a single to start things off and three batters later, Jennings hit a single to right field to bring Soria home and give UCSB a 1-0 lead.
“It was kind of perfect in [Keilani and Jessica’s] first at bats of their last games that they were able to put up the first run,” Head Coach Brie Galicinao said.
However, UCSB’s early momentum was ended in the second inning when junior outfielder Dionne Anderson tied the game off a sac fly by freshman third baseman Brittanie Akey.
The Highlanders kept the pressure on with four more runs, aided by two Gaucho errors in the fourth inning to go up 5-1.
UCSB stayed resilient and fought back. The Gauchos tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fourth, first by junior first baseman Lauren Boser off a single by freshman catcher Samantha Stark, and next by junior outfielder McKenzie Kane off a ground out by sophomore pitcher Shelby Wisdom.
Riverside eventually pulled away in the sixth inning, scoring four runs on six hits and killing the Gauchos’ chances for a comeback. UCSB didn’t have an answer in the final two innings, losing with a final score of 9-3.
“Riverside came out hitting and swinging well today and we just couldn’t match them offensively,” Galicinao said. “We didn’t have the same performances [as Friday], but offensively we could’ve come out a lot stronger today. We just couldn’t keep up.”
The previous game was a much more balanced effort for the Gauchos on both sides of the ball. The team came out firing with Wisdom and Soria scoring the first two runs of the game off a double by Jennings. Junior second baseman Kathryn Pilpil followed up with a double of her own to bring Jennings home and give UCSB an early 3-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Alex Pingree was solid as she has been all year, giving up no runs and striking out four batters in five innings played.
Wisdom knocked a solo homer over center field, her eighth homer of the season, and finished the game pitching the last two innings as UCSB won 5-1.
“On Friday we strung hits together a little bit better,” Jennings said. “[Saturday] we just had a rough defense and didn’t get those clutch hits.”
The first game of the weekend was a struggle on the offensive side for both teams, but one run by freshman outfielder Arianna Palomares in the first inning was enough to seal a 1-0 UCSB win.
Wisdom was masterful in the circle, striking out nine batters and shutting out the Highlanders as she pitched a full seven innings.
“We started [the weekend] out really great, we were really excited,” Jennings said. “Overall we had a pretty good weekend.”
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of May 13th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.