TEMPE, Ariz. – After showing improvement over its opening four games, UC Santa Barbara (1-4) broke through and captured its first win of the season as it edged out Utah, 6-5, late Saturday night. The Gauchos suffered a 12-4 loss to BYU (3-2) earlier in the day before bouncing back against the Utes (1-2).
With the game deadlocked, 5-5, at the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, Kathryn Pilpil drove pinch runner Kelly McDonald home from second base with a single to left center field to capture the 6-5 victory for the Gauchos.
The pairing with the Utes was a seesaw battle throughout. Utah got on the scoreboard early when Whitney Holm hit a two-run homer with two outs at the top of the first inning.
UCSB countered at the bottom of the same inning when junior Jessica Soria and senior Brooke Putich reached on a walk and an error, respectively. Freshman Shelby Wisdom, who also earned the win in the circle, drove the first run home with a base hit to third. One out and one more Ute error later, Pilpil drove in Putich and Wisdom with a two-RBI double to right center field.
At the top of the third, Kelsi Hoopilaina led off with a solo home run to tie the game. Shortly thereafter, a Gaucho error during a fielder's choice allowed Sandi Bowles to score, giving the Utes the 4-3 advantage.
The back-and-forth battle continued at the bottom of the same inning. Wisdom drew a walk and Jennings reached on a fielder's choice before DeJanee Moore drove the former home with a base hit to right field. The shortstop stole second during the next at-bat and the catcher committed a throwing error trying to beat her, giving Jennings ample time to come home and regain the Gaucho lead.
UCSB held the advantage until the top of the seventh. With two outs, Jackie Sweet drew a walk. Hoopilaina was up next and singled to right field. Sweet was able to come home on the throw to give the Utes the advantage once again and to set the stage for Pilpil's late-game heroics.
Moore and Pilpil each went 2-for-4 at the plate with the latter driving in three of the Gauchos' six runs.
Wisdom (1-1) collected her first collegiate win after tossing all seven innings and striking out 11 batters. She allowed five runs – four earned – on five hits. She also went 1-for-2 with two walks, two runs and an RBI.
During the first game of the day, BYU was able to capitalize on several Gaucho errors at the bottom the first inning to climb out to an early 4-0 lead.
Junior Lainey DePompa got UCSB on the board with a two-out solo home run at the top of the next inning.
In the third, the Cougars added another run when Krista Hicks sent Delaney Willard home with a single through the right side. With two outs in the fourth, Willard hit a two-run homer over the center field to push the BYU lead to 7-1.
Jennings drew a walk to open the sixth inning and Pilpil and Moore notched consecutive singles to load the bases. The Cougars made a pitching change and retired the next two batters before an error at second base allowed both Jennings and Pilpil to score. Soria followed with an infield single, driving Moore home and cutting the Gauchos' deficit to three runs.
BYU quickly answered back at the bottom of the same inning, scoring another run on a Gaucho error. The Cougars then loaded the bases, setting the table for Anna Hudson, who hit a three-run double to right field. After retiring the next two batters in order, sophomore pitcher Andriana Collins got into another bases-loaded bind after hitting two batters. A walk drawn by Jessica Dugas sent home the Cougars' 12th run and ended the game per the mercy rule.
Soria and Moore led the Gauchos offensively with two hits and two stolen bases apiece. Soria was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Moore was 2-for-3 with a run.
In the circle, Collins (0-3) allowed 12 runs – just four of which were earned – on eight hits. She walked three and struck out a season-high eight batters.
The Gauchos will wrap up action at the Kajikawa Classic on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. against Stanford.
The Gauchos will open at home on Feb. 23. Season tickets are available and the package includes All-Session passes for both the Gaucho Classic I (Feb. 23-26) and the Gaucho Classic II (March 16-18), in addition to tickets to 11 more exciting home contests.
Season tickets can be purchased for $60 – for a cost of just $2.61 per game – and with their purchase, fans will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Gauchos Shop.
To purchase 2012 softball season tickets, call 805-893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus or click here to purchase online.
Members of GKids, the official kids club of UCSB Athletics, receive free admission to all home softball contests in addition to a GKids T-shirt and coloring book. To sign up for GKids or to learn more, click here.