Alyssa Diaz swings at a low strike. Dustin Harris/Daily Nexus

March hasn’t been too kind to the UCSB softball team. Current owners of a 10-17 record, UCSB has lost nine of its last twelve games in March as it heads into its break as student-athletes focus on ending the quarter with final exams. The Gauchos spent the weekend competing in the Bulldog Classic in Fresno, CA, as they split their tournament, finishing the stretch of games with a 2-3 mark.

The Gauchos are now 10-17 overall.

On Friday, the Gauchos kicked off their Bulldog Classic competition with a double header against the Cal Berkeley Bears, boasting a 20-3 record, in the afternoon, before matching up with the Fresno State Bulldogs,11-10, in the evening.

Redshirt Junior pitcher Zoe Conley came out as a commanding ace against the ‘Chos, allowing zero earned runs throughout her 5-inning complete game, improving to 9-3 on the year with this 12-2 mercy victory against Santa Barbara. UCSB bats had no answer for the sheer dominance displayed by Conley, but while their hitting struggles were aggravatingly obvious, the Gauchos pitching was gruelingly worse.

The bears got off to a hot start against Junior pitcher Veronika Gulvin as they flashed two doubles out of the gate to take a 1-0 lead. Gulvin was pulled with two outs in the first after an error by junior shortstop Melanie Menor and a single to left field from the next batter. She allowed four runs, three of which were unearned, picking up her seventh loss of the season, now sporting a 3-7 record.

The latter half of the day didn’t bode over any better for the ‘Chos as they dropped their second blowout loss of the day, this time against Fresno State University by a score of 8-0. The Bulldogs shut down Gaucho hitting to a bare minimum as they shutout UCSB over the six-inning mercy match only allowing a single hit, which came in the top of the fifth inning as senior catch Samantha Lujan hit a single up the middle to center field.

Senior right handed pitcher Savannah Mchellon was lights out for the Bulldogs improving her record to 1-1 on the season with her one hit shutout.

Saturday brought a sliver of hope for the Gauchos as they played their second doubleheader in as many days, this time around, however, Santa Barbara took on the Monmouth University Hawks. UCSB split the series with the Hawks after losing the first game of the day by a score of 12-4. The ‘Chos bounced back with a 6-3 victory of their own, snapping a six-game losing skid, and in turn introduced a little life into their bats again.

After minimal damage through the first three innings, Lena Mayer allowed a double and a walk to give way to a two-out rally. Meyer was pulled with two down in the fourth for sophomore pitcher Felisha Noriega. Noriega endured a couple of poor outings over the weekend, including a relief appearance in the fourth in which she walked the bases loaded and then allowed two back-to-back singles which drove in four runs and opened the game up for the Hawks.

Senior righty Lena Mayer was accredited with the loss, dropping her record to 3-5 on the year. On the other side of the ball, senior pitcher Amanda Riley got the win for Monmouth in the first matchup of the day from her 5 inning, 4 run performance, advancing her record to 4-2 on the season.

The highlight of the weekend came with the second game of the day as freshman pitcher Emily Schuttish took the mound for her second start of the season. Schuttish allowed only one earned run on 9 hits over her 7-inning complete game appearance and improved her record to 1-0 on the year.

The Gauchos batted around in their third inning rally as they scored six runs, topped off by a one-out, 2 RBI blast to deep right center field by sophomore first baseman slugger Alyssa Diaz, her fourth home run on the year.

Santa Barbara’s second Saturday outing got the bats rolling as the Gauchos carried over their powerful hitting parade onto Sunday morning when UCSB overcame the Cleveland State University Vikings by a score of 7-4, extending their win streak to two games to cap off the Bulldog Classic.

Heading into the top of the fourth down by 1, the Gauchos came alive once again and dropped in four runs on five hits in the inning. Senior Samantha Lujan tied up the game with a one out, RBI single to center field. Two batters later, freshman outfielder Alyssa Latzatin busted the game wide open with a 3 RBI double to deep left center field.

After a couple of poor outings earlier in the weekend, sophomore Felisha Noriega bounced back with a relief win of her own as she advanced her record to 3-5 on the season. Senior right handed pitcher Mackenzie Joecken picked up her third loss of the season for Cleveland State as her record dropped to 4-3 this season.

The end of the Bulldog Classic brought two much needed wins for UCSB as the team heads into a two week break while students focus on their end of the quarter finals. As the ‘Chos picked up their second and third wins in March, their record advances to 10-17 on the season heading into the twelve-day break.

The two-week gap commences on Friday, March 23 as UCSB hosts the Gaucho Classic II and kicks off the tournament with a doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield and St. Mary’s College.