SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara softball team fell to Cal State Fullerton in Saturday's Big West opening doubleheader at Campus Diamond, falling just short in a 1-0 defeat before losing in extra innings 6-2.
The Gauchos are now 6-27 overall and 0-2 in conference play, while the Titans improve to 22-13 overall, 2-0 Big West.
Saturday's first game would go Fullerton's way thanks to a fifth inning run from Kelsie Whitmore which went on to be the only score of the game.
The tough loss came despite an excellent performance from junior pitcher Felisha Noriega. The former Etiwanda high school ace held the Titans to just two hits, as she gave up zero earned runs in a complete seven innings of work.
Noriega also had three strikeouts. It was the third time this season that she pitched a complete game while giving up no earned runs.
The Gauchos finished with a 7-2 advantage in the hit department, but unfortunately couldn't turn it into any runs. Junior Genesis Ramirez went 2-for-3, while senior Melanie Menor was a perfect 2-of-2 with a walk.
After a scoreless first four innings, Whitmore would knock a single towards Noriega in the top of the fifth against two outs. After stealing second, she would score on a Gaucho fielding error to make it 1-0.
Santa Barbara nearly had an answer in the bottom half of the inning. Junior Devan Sperry opened things with a leadoff single, her first hit in a Gaucho jersey. Freshman Ally Nodohara would then take her place at first base as a pinch runner. Menor's walk on the next at bat would put Nodohara on second. Then, after Maci Fines singled up the middle, Nodohara attempted to dart home for the tying run, but was thrown out at the plate.
UCSB would have its last chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Following two straight outs, Menor singled to left field, but a groundout on the next batter would end the game 1-0 in Fullerton's favor.
In the second game of the doubleheader, a promising third inning would give UCSB its first lead of the day, 2-1. However, Fullerton quickly tied things up and, after heading into extra innings tied at 2-2, the Titans exploded for four runs to end the game 6-2.
UCSB fell behind 1-0 after Daisy Munoz homered to left field in the top of the third, but the Gauchos responded quickly to take the lead. Thies was the first to get on base with a bunt, followed by a Genesis Ramirez single to center field.
Sperry then stepped up to record UCSB's first extra base hit of the day, a double to center field which brought Thies home for the tying run. Cohen's single through the left side immediately after scored a run from Ramirez to put the Gauchos ahead 2-1. However, in the fourth, the Titans would score for the second straight inning to make it 2-2.
After entering the eighth equaling the Gauchos 8-to-8 in hits, CSF put up four in the decisive final inning. That included a leadoff home run to left field from Irie Siofele – nearly identical to the one from Munoz – as well as an RBI double and a two-run triple.
Freshman pitcher Alyssa Molina earned her first start of the season, and did a fine job giving up just one hit and one run in three innings in the circle. Also registering hits for the Gauchos were Sammy Fabian and Tyler Goldstein.
Santa Barbara will get another chance at taking down the Titans tomorrow in the final game of the opening weekend of Big West play. Sunday's game is set for a 12:00 p.m. start time at Campus Diamond.