The UCSB softball team had a tough weekend on the road as they traveled to Cathedral City to play in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Taking on three top 25 ranked teams in Washington, Texas A&M, Louisiana State in addition to unranked Binghamton and Bethune-Cookman, the Gauchos pulled out 2 wins and 3 losses.
UCSB started its weekend off with a shutout win against the Binghamton Bearcats. The Gauchos scored runs in both the third and fourth innings which held up for a stellar 2-0 victory. Junior outfielder Kristen Clark and senior infielder Arianna Palomares each had an RBI, scoring freshman infielder Melanie Menor both times.
Together, the pitching duo of Lena Mayer and Ashley Ludlow were able to control the Bearcats lineup, combining for 5 strikeouts while allowing only four hits. Mayer took the win and Ludlow earned her first save in the season, closing out the game in the seventh inning.
Washington was a different story as the Gauchos fell to the No. 11 ranked Huskies 7-0. The Huskies came out quickly, scoring 3 runs in the first inning, and putting relentless pressure on Gaucho starting pitcher Veronika Gulvin. Gulvin only lasted two-thirds of an inning until Ludlow came on to finish the game, giving up three earned runs off of seven hits while striking out four.
The Gauchos almost scored in the first when leadoff hitter Clark reached base on an error, eventually advancing to third with two outs. However, Huskie pitcher Madi Schreyer held Clark at third by popping up star freshman infielder Sierra Altmeyer to end the threat.
UCSB’s tough schedule would only continue on Saturday as it faced two of the toughest teams in the tournament: 25th ranked Texas A&M and 4th ranked Louisiana State University.
Texas A&M showed no mercy as they scored 8 runs in the first inning against the Gauchos, walking away with a 13-5 victory in just five innings. UCSB did score runs in three of the five innings, plating two big runs in the second on senior catcher Samantha Stark’s clutch double to left center scoring both Altmeyer and junior infielder Emily Brucelas. Stark came home with the third run of the inning when junior outfielder Stacy Cavazos singled into right center.
Later in the day against LSU, the Gauchos fared better, holding the Tigers to just one run through the first four innings. However in the fifth, LSU knocked in four runs on three hits and an error, and the Tigers ended up taking the win 5-2.
Gaucho senior starter Ashley Ludlow pitched a complete game and worked hard for all six innings against LSU, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits, and striking out four. On offense, the Gauchos out hit the Tigers 11-7, which were the most hits given up by LSU all season.
The Gauchos did have a chance to score early on LSU, as leadoff hitter Kristen Clark singled, followed by another solid single by Palomares, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Sophomore outfielder Jessica Johnston then bunted Clark and Palomares into scoring position with one out. After that, LSU pitcher Sydney Smith shutdown the Gauchos, striking out Altmeyer and popping up Brucelas to end the inning.
Clark had another great game at the plate for Santa Barbara, going 3-for-3, and is now batting .485 on the season. Palomares also had three hits to go with her team-high two RBIs. Unfortunately, the heart of the Gauchos order left 6 runners stranded in the game, going a collective 0 for 7 at the plate.
UCSB finished the weekend with a much better outcome, shutting down Bethune-Cookman with a 4-1 victory. The Wildcats scored their lone run of the game in the second, however that was all the Gauchos would allow. The Gauchos took over the game starting in the third when Palamores scored off of an Altmeyer RBI single to left field. UCSB went on to score two more runs in the fourth, and their last run of the game in the sixth.
Brucelas had a strong game with a double and two runs scored. Ludlow came on in relief and pitched a solid game, striking out 10 and giving up 6 hits over the final 5 and 1/3 as she collected the win.
UCSB will host their first tournament of the season this weekend, the Gaucho Classic I. The first pitch will be thrown out at 8:30 on Friday morning, against South Carolina.