Maci Fines slap-hits in an attempt to get on base. Dustin Harris/Daily Nexus

The UCSB Gaucho softball team saved their best for last as they took two out of three games against rival Cal Poly for their first series win of the season.

With this weekend’s series win, the Gauchos will finish the season with a 10-42 overall record and a 4-17 record in conference play, placing them at eighth place in the Big West.

Both UCSB and Cal Poly had suffered through less-than-stellar seasons up to this point and had little left to play for, but a three-game set against a rival served as the perfect opportunity for the winner to end the season on a high note.

The series began with a doubleheader on Friday, where we saw two close games won by both squads.

Game one started off well for the Cal Poly, as Lily Amos’s homerun in the bottom of the first got the Mustangs going, and a third inning single by Hailey Martin scored two more runs and put them up 3-0 by the end of the third.

That lead held until the fifth inning where the Gauchos came back to tie the game at three with help from an RBI single from Sammy Fabian and a fielding error from Cal Poly that plated two more runs for UCSB.

Game one was coming down to the wire,  and the Gauchos were able to find clutch hits when they needed them as Devan Sperry ripped a two-out bases-clearing double in the top of the seventh to put UCSB up 6-3; they eventually ended up winning by a score of 6-5.

Game two also stayed close throughout as Cal Poly again jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to a pair of RBI singles in the second inning. UCSB tied the game up in the third but could not hold on — the Mustangs scored two more runs in the third and another in the fifth to have a 5-2 lead heading into the seventh inning. The Gauchos threatened in the seventh, scoring one run only to line into a double play with the go-ahead run at the plate.  

With each club securing a win on Friday it meant that the series and season finale on Saturday would be the final chance for UCSB to win a series against a Big West opponent this season, and to do it  against their bitter rival would make it even sweeter.

The Gauchos definitely understood the significance of this game, as they came out red-hot in the first two innings. Devan Sperry started her brilliant 4-4 day with a two-RBI single in the first before Santa Barbara really blew the game wide open in the second with a four-run, five-hit inning thanks to a pair of two-RBI knocks from Sammy Fabian and Devan Sperry.

Santa Barbara put up another five-hit inning in the fifth, this time bringing home three runs to push the score up to 9-0.

Cal Poly put up one run in the fifth on a Gaucho fielding error, but they were unable to do any more damage as the game was called due to the mercy rule after the fifth inning.

The Gaucho pitching staff was also locked in on the mound in Saturday’s game, as Felisha Noriega and Veronika Gulvin combined to give up three hits and zero earned runs; the game was called after five innings.

This series marks the end of the 2019 UCSB softball season and in a season that did not go as well as hoped, a series win like this against a rival is something that you can hang your hat on as we look forward to next year.