SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Coming off of an 11-game season-opening road swing, the UCSB softball team (3-10) began its 2012 home slate in strong fashion as the Gauchos swept a doubleheader against visiting No. 23 Houston (7-4) on Thursday afternoon, the opening day of the Gaucho Classic I.
With the first win of the day, head coach Brie Galicinao reached 100 career victories. She has compiled a 101-122 record during her five seasons with the Gauchos.
The Gauchos benefited from a balanced offense as eight players had multiple hits during the twin bill. Junior Jessica Soria led the team going 5-for-9 with two runs, two RBI and a triple on the day. The center fielder also made what was, no doubt, the play of the day with a diving catch at the warning track in game one.
UCSB scored first in game one at the bottom of the second inning. Kathryn Pilpil led off with a double and one out later, Lainey DePompa bunted her over to second. During the play, Houston's second baseman overthrew the ball, allowing Pilpil to advance to third. Brooke Putich followed with a base hit straight up the middle, sending the runner home.
Another Houston error in the third inning allowed McKenzie Kane to reach first. Shelby Wisdom moved the Gaucho runner when she grounded out during the ensuing at-bat. A beautiful single hit up the right field line by DeJanee Moore scored Kane and stretched the UCSB lead to 2-0.
At the top of the fifth, Haley Outon cut the Gaucho lead in half on a two-out home run over the left field fence. The Cougars then tied the game in the sixth when Jennifer Klinkert sent pinch runner Julia Pecina home with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Gauchos quickly responded at the bottom of the same inning as DePompa hit a double before Putich drew a walk. Soria followed with her triple, hit deep to right center field, driving both runners home. An infield RBI single from Kane scored Soria and gave UCSB a three run cushion heading into the top of the seventh.
Houston managed one more run when Ashleigh Jones grounded out to the pitcher, sending Sydney Gerbracht across home plate, but the Gauchos held on for the 5-3 win.
Wisdom (2-4) tossed the complete game and allowed just three runs – two earned – on eight hits. She struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Soria had three hits during the game while Kane and DePompa each tallied a pair, including a couple of doubles by the latter.
After posting a season-best 11 hits in game one, UCSB decided to top itself in game two as it benefited from a 13-hit performance coupled with seven errors by the Cougars.
The Gauchos – who were designated as the visiting team – carried their momentum into the top of the first inning. Soria and Kane opened with consecutive infield singles before advancing on Wisdom's ground out to the shortstop. Due to an overthrow by the catcher on a pick-off attempt, Soria was able to score.
With two outs at the top of the third, Wisdom got on base following an error by the second baseman. Keilani Jennings then hit an infield single before Moore sent a double to shallow left field, scoring Wisdom.
The Cougars were able to cut their deficit in half in the fifth inning. With a pair of runners on-base and two outs, Reina Gaber hit a single to shallow left field. Brooke Putich nearly made a fantastic diving catch, but came up short, giving Gerbracht time to tag home.
Not content with the narrow lead, UCSB battled back in the sixth inning. With one out, Lauren Boser doubled to a gap in left center field. Putich and Soria followed with consecutive singles to load the bases. A pitch hit Kane sending Boser home and one out later, Jennings drew a bases loaded walk, scoring Putich.
Houston loaded the bases in the bottom of the same inning, but the Gauchos turned their second double play of the day to help pitcher Andriana Collins out of the jam. The next batter grounded out and the Gaucho offense went back to work in the seventh.
Pilpil led off with a single and one out later, Boser hit a single up the middle. The Cougar center fielder bobbled the ball and then muffed the throw, allowing Pilpil to come home and Boser to reach third base. Another fielding error, this time at first, allowed Putich to reach and an overthrow by the catcher on the following play gave Boser ample time to come home and UCSB the 6-1 edge.
With two outs at the bottom of the seventh, Houston loaded the bases with consecutive base hits. Collins struck out the final batter swinging to seal the victory for the Gauchos and her first in the circle this season.
Collins (1-6) limited Houston to one earned run on seven hits. She walked two and struck out four.
At the plate, Boser led the way going 3-for-4 with two runs. Soria, Jennings and Putich each had a pair of hits.
UCSB continues action at the Gaucho Classic I on Friday when it plays Nevada at 3 p.m. at Campus Diamond.