After a disappointing start to Big West Conference play last weekend in which the UCSB softball team dropped two of three games to Cal State Fullerton, the Gauchos didn’t fare any better in a double-header against a non-conference opponent yesterday, losing 2-1 and 10-4 to No. 16 Oregon.
The loss marks the fourth consecutive loss for Santa Barbara, which drops to 21-14 overall while remaining 1-2 in the Big West. Before losing six of its last seven games, UCSB was off to its best start in school history.
The Ducks, meanwhile, earned their fifth straight victory, improving to 32-4 and 6-0 in the Pac-12.
UCSB put up a solid effort in game one against the Pac-12 foe, making the win hard for Oregon by taking the game to eight innings.
In fact, it was the Gauchos that got on the board first. With senior second baseman Kathryn Pilpil on second base in the first inning, sophomore catcher MeShalon Moore singled to right field, brining Pilpil home.
Moore led Santa Barbara offensively, hitting 2-2 with one RBI in game one.
However, the Ducks answered in the fifth when sophomore centerfielder Koral Costa hit a home run to right field, evening the game at one.
Entering extra innings with senior third baseman Courtney Ceo placed on second base per NCAA rules, singles from sophomore designated player Alyssa Gillespie and senior right fielder Alexa Peterson gave Oregon the 2-1 victory.
While UCSB suffered the loss, junior pitcher Shelby Wisdom played a good game in the circle, giving up just two runs while striking out seven.
Yet the Gauchos struggled offensively, earning just one run on five hits.
Despite playing the Ducks close in game one, game two was in Oregon’s control the entire game.
Starting the game hot, Oregon scored nine of its ten runs in the first two innings. After putting two runs on the board in the first inning, the Ducks scored three runs off of two singles and four walks. They then capped off the inning with a grand slam from senior first baseman Kailee Cuico.
Down by a large margin in the third, Wisdom homered with two outs to left field, scoring Pilpil and Clark.
With the deficit still at six runs, UCSB’s comeback came up short. Both teams scored one more run, the Ducks in the sixth inning and the Gauchos in the seventh, but Santa Barbara couldn’t find the offense to avoid its second loss of the day 10-4.
After falling behind early, UCSB outplayed Oregon the second half of the game. Sophomore pitcher Ashley Ludlow anchored the Gauchos defensively, giving up just two hits and striking out four in her 4.2 innings of play. On the offensive end, Santa Barbara outscored Oregon 4-1 after the second inning.
Offensively, six different players scored for the Ducks. Leading Oregon were Ceo and Cuico. Ceo hit 2-2 with two runs and one RBI while Cuico recorded one run and five RBI on 2-2 hitting.
Santa Barbara continues its break from conference play and road trip in Oregon tomorrow when it travels to take on Oregon State. First pitch is set for noon at the OSU Softball Complex.
A version of this article appeared on page 13 of April 2nd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Anna Kodelashvili of the Daily Nexus.