SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UCSB softball team (6-11) closed action at the Gaucho Classic I on Sunday by splitting a pair of games at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos downed Nevada (4-11), 8-1, in their morning game before falling to San Diego (4-6), 5-1, in the tournament finale.
A big first inning helped propel the Gauchos to their fifth-straight win in the early game against Nevada. Junior Jessica Soria got things started for UCSB with a leadoff single to left field and she was able to grab a couple extra bases on the play when the Wolfpack leftfielder struggled to field the ball. An infield single from sophomore McKenzie Kane followed and she also benefitted from a Nevada error, advancing to second.
Sophomore Lauren Boser drove in the first Gaucho run when she grounded out to second base. Senior Lainey DePompa promptly followed with a two-run homer hit high over the left field fence, pushing the UCSB lead to 3-0.
The Nevada coaching staff decided to make a pitching change, switching out starter Bailey Brewer for Karlyn Jones. The latter allowed two consecutive RBI singles by freshman Shelby Wisdom and senior Brooke Putich before earning the third out with a strikeout. When all the damage was done, UCSB led, 5-0.
In the second with two outs, Pilpil hit a ground ball past diving shortstop Karley Hopkins and into left center field, driving Kane home for her second run of the game. Kane had reached on a walk and then stole second one out prior.
Trailing by six early, Nevada – which was the designated home team – countered at the bottom of the second. Megan Fincher led off with a line drive to left field and Ashley Butera followed with a ground ball hit through the left side.
UCSB pitcher Wisdom was able to earn the first two outs, but she hit Chelsea Barilli in the knee with a full count, loading the bases. Karley Hopkins earned the bases-loaded walk to send home what would be the lone Wolfpack run of the day.
In the third, Putich tallied the second of her three hits with a single to shallow right field hit off of the first pitch. Soria followed with a fly ball that landed in shallow left field between the third baseman and left fielder to put two runners on with no outs. Kane moved both runners into scoring position with a ground out to second base before a fielding error by the third baseman on a pick off attempt allowed Putich ample time to cross home plate.
With a 7-1 lead at the top of the seventh, UCSB was able to tack on one more run. Wisdom hit a one-out single to center field and moved to second on Putich's third hit: a ground ball sent up the middle of the field. Both runners were moved a base by Soria, who grounded out to second base. Senior Allison Taylor then came in to pinch hit and sent a soft pop up to the pitcher. Jones failed to make the easy catch, allowing Wisdom to come home.
Offensively, five Gauchos had multiple hits during the game, including Putich, who went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
In the circle, Wisdom (4-4) pitched the complete game and allowed just one earned run on seven hits. She walked two and struck out nine.
During the tournament closer against San Diego, the two teams battled through four and a half scoreless innings until the Gauchos were able to put up the first run.
In the bottom of the fifth, Putich led off with her fourth hit of the day, expertly placed in the gap in shallow left center field. Soria bunted her teammate over during the next at-bat and Kane's tapped single to the pitcher put runners on the corners. Pilpil sent Putich home with a ground out to second base, giving UCSB a 1-0 advantage.
The Toreros battled back at the top of the next inning when they put two runners on with no outs off of a base hit and a Gaucho error. A double to left field by pinch hitter Katie Emerson scored Jessica Tieszen to tie the game.
UCSB brought Wisdom in to relieve Andriana Collins in the circle, but the freshman was not able to squelch the San Diego rally. Chelsea Kamai drove home another run with a base hit to center field and one out later, Kylie Ordos hit a three-run homer over the left field fence.
The Gauchos were able to get two runners on via walks with no outs in the sixth inning, but both runners were left stranded and UCSB continued to trail, 5-1.
Putich gave Gaucho fans hope in the seventh as she led off with yet another base hit, but a pop fly and fielder's choice quickly brought UCSB to two outs. Pilpil was able to extend the inning when she reached first following an overthrow by the pitcher to first base, but the rally never materialized as USD got the final out and the win.
Putich once again led the way, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
Andriana Collins (2-7) suffered the loss after allowing three runs – two earned – on seven hits. She struck out one in five innings of work. Wisdom allowed two runs on three hits in two innings of relief work while striking out three.
The Gauchos finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, besting UNLV (3-2), San Diego (2-3), Houston (2-3) and Nevada (1-4).
UCSB will hit the road – or more accurately the air – later this week when they travel to Oahu for the Hawaii Invitational. The Gauchos will open tournament play against Florida State on Friday, Mar. 2.