The UC Santa Barbara softball team hosted their first series at home under new head coach Jo Evans. The Gauchos played a 3-game series against the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds, where the Gauchos went 3-0 on the weekend, winning 10-2, 9-2 and 5-4. 

Dustin Harris/Daily Nexus

On Friday, Feb. 17, the Gauchos played a doubleheader against the Thunderbirds.

In Game 1, the Gauchos started hot as they scored 4 runs in the 1st inning. Freshman third baseman Bella Fuentes, senior infielder Hannah Damore, freshman utility Jazzy Santos and senior infielder Korie Thomas each earned an RBI in the inning.

Junior pitcher Camryn Snyder went out the next inning and pitched with a lead as she put up another zero on the board for the Gauchos, keeping the momentum on their side. The Gauchos stayed hot as they scored 2 more, with Fuentes earning another RBI. The score was 6-0 going into the 3rd inning. 

The Thunderbirds responded in the 3rd inning by scoring 2 off of Snyder, making the score 6-2 in favor of the Gauchos. Snyder escaped the inning without giving any more runs to Southern Utah.

The Gauchos responded by putting up 4 runs in the bottom half of the inning, making it 10-2 in favor of the Gauchos. Junior infielder Chloe Stewart, senior outfielder Sam Denehy and junior infielder Madelyn McNally earned RBIs. 

Snyder held the Thunderbirds scoreless for the 4th and 5th inning, earning her the complete game win and a Gauchos win.

Going into Game 2 of the doubleheader, sophomore pitcher Ava Bradford held Southern Utah scoreless in the top half of the inning, but the Gauchos went on the score in the bottom half. 

The Gauchos took full advantage of the Thunderbirds’ mistakes as they scored 2 runs off an error, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Gauchos. 

The Thunderbirds responded immediately as a pair of doubles in the 2nd and 3rd inning, tying the game at 2-2. From there on, it was all Santa Barbara. 

The Gauchos went on a 6-run rally in the 5th inning to make the score 9-2 for the Gauchos. Sophomore catcher Daryn Siegel, junior catcher and utility Ashley Donaldson, sophomore outfielder Lucy Mogan and freshman outfielder Makayla Newsom were all credited with RBIs for the run-driving in singles. 

Senior pitcher Ilona Sullivan came to pitch the game in the 3rd inning, replacing Bradford for the Gauchos. Sullivan held the Thunderbirds scoreless and won by getting 4 strikeouts and only allowing 1 hit.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Gauchos looked to complete the sweep at home with freshman pitcher Malaya Johnson on the mound.

The Gauchos again struck first as Mogan hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Damore to make it 1-0 for Santa Barbara.

Southern Utah responded, and they scored 2 unanswered runs in the 3rd inning to give them the 2-1 lead. 

Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the Thunderbirds continued to score after the 3rd inning as they scored 2 more in the 5th inning after a 2-run home run. After 5 innings, the Gauchos were down 4-1 going into the 6th inning. 

Santa Barbara cut the deficit and tied it in the 6th inning after some key singles. Stewart hit a single to score McNally and Newsom to make it 4-3 in favor of the Thunderbirds. The Gauchos didn’t stop there, as a single from Donaldson scored Stewart to tie it 4-4 in the bottom half of the 6th inning.

The Gauchos held the Thunderbirds scoreless in the top half of the 7th inning, giving them a chance to walk it off. The Gauchos took full advantage of the opportunity as McNally hit a double to score Fuentes and complete the 3-game sweep.

The Gauchos will go back on the road for the Silicon Valley Invitational at Santa Clara University. The Gauchos will play Sacramento State University, Northern Colorado University, San Jose State University and Santa Clara University. The first pitch of the invite will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the Feb. 23, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.