MONOROE, La. – UC Santa Barbara continued its perfect start to its 2013 campaign on Saturday as it defeated Northwestern State, 5-0, and Mississippi Valley State, 6-3, on the third day of the Mardi Gras Classic.
With the pair of victories, UCSB improves to 5-0 on the early season, marking its best start since 2011 when it opened with six consecutive victories.
The Gauchos continued their season-opening roll in their first game on Saturday against Northwestern State. After battling through three scoreless innings, UCSB's offense broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Keilani Jennings drew a walk before a single by Kathryn Pilpil moved her into scoring position. A timely single to left center field by Lauren Boser drove Jennings home and gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead.
UCSB was able to pour on four more runs at the bottom of the sixth. Shelby Wisdom hit a solo homer to get the ball rolling. Pilpil then drove Jennings – who reached with a double to left – home with no outs. One out later, McKenzie Kane drew a bases loaded walk to send Pilpil across home plate. An RBI single from Soria scored Lauren Boser to put the Gauchos up, 5-0.
Arianna Palomares led the team, going 3-for-4 with an RBI while Boser was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI.
In the circle, Wisdom collected her third win of the season with a complete game shutout. She allowed six hits, walked one and struck out five.
The Gauchos fell behind early against Mississippi Valley State in their second game of the day. After the Devilettes' leadoff batter, Alex Robertson, reached on an error they brought home their first run when Nicole Burr doubled down the left field line.
UCSB countered in the bottom of the inning when Jessica Soria led off with a single through the left side. Palomares and Wisdom each provided sacrifices to move the runner to third. Soria was able to come home on a wild pitch to deadlock the game at one apiece.
In the top second inning, Yasmin Battle reached on a two-out single before Kishti Kamaka was hit by a pitch. Robertson followed with a double to right center field to push Mississippi Valley State's lead to 3-1.
The Gauchos trailed until the fifth inning. With two outs, Palomares tripled to left field. Wisdom followed with her second home run of the day, once again tying the game.
In the sixth with one out, Boser hit a double to center field and moved to third on a wild pitch during Sami Stark's at-bat. Stark drew a walk and one out later, an error at first base allowed Soria to reach and Boser to score. A single by Palomares loaded the bases and another infield error allowed Wisdom to reach first and Stark to score. An RBI single by Jennings gave the Gauchos a 6-3 advantage heading into the top of the seventh.
Soria, Palomares, Wisdom and Jennings each had a pair of hits in the victory. Andriana Collins (1-0) grabbed her first victory of the year after tossing the final four innings and allowing just one hit while striking out four. Alex Pingree started the game and allowed three runs – two earned – on four hits in three innings of work.
UCSB will wrap-up action at the Mardi Gras classic on Sunday against Southeast Missouri State. The game is slated for 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time and can be followed via live stats here.