TEMPE, Ariz. – In facing a pair of power conference teams, UCSB fell in back-to-back games with to open the Kajikawa Classic. In their season opener, the Gauchos were dealt a 13-0 loss by Texas, while Northwestern downed UCSB 13-2 in the late game. Both the Longhorns and Wildcats received votes in the first NFCA Coaches poll of the season.
The Gauchos open the season at 0-2, as they will look to bounce back tomorrow with games against Ole Miss and UTEP.
Arianna Palomares led the team with three hits and two RBI between the two games, while Kristen Clark – last season's hits leader – tied her with three base knocks. Shelby Wisdom – who started in center field for the first time in her career – ended the day with two RBI double later in the Northwestern game.
In the circle, Alex Pingree clocked in the most innings pitched with five and two-thirds, while Ashley Ludlow was behind her with four. The two combined for nine strike outs on the day, as Pingree recorded four with Ludlow dealing a team-high five punch outs.
UC Santa Barbara got off to a slow start in its opening match of the 2015 campaign. In its first contest of the Friday evening, Santa Barbara faced off against a Big-12 program in the University of Texas. Faltered by a 13 run fifth inning, UCSB surrendered a five-inning 15-0 loss to the Longhorns.
In the circle for the opener, junior pitcher Alex Pingree battled through a tough task right from the start. Facing a zero out, bases loaded situation in the top of the first, Pingree successfully retired the next three batters to get the Gauchos out of the early logjam.
With three consecutive pop flies to start the bottom of the first, the top of the order for the Gauchos could not create any scoring chances against Longhorn's pitcher, Erica Wright.
The Longhorns put up the first runs of the game in the second inning as junior infielder Stephanie Ceo blasted a one out 2-run homer to right field. After allowing the one out home run, Pingree bounced right back by striking out the next batters and creating a groundout to end the top of the inning.
In the bottom of the second, senior utility DeJanee Moore reached first base on a one out single. After another pop fly by the Gauchos, the Blue and Gold produced its first runner in scoring position, as Moore reached second due to a walk by Emily Brucelas. Despite two runners on base, UCSB could not cut the deficit as Texas escaped the inning.
Producing three pop ups and a single walk in the top of the third, Pingree breezed through the inning. Sophomore outfielder Kristen Clark safely got on first base off a one out single. After another fly out, Clark was able to reach second base due to a two-out fielding error by the Longhorns. The Gauchos unfortunately stranded its second runner in scoring position as junior MeShalon Moore was caught looking in a full count strikeout.
After a brief third inning, Pingree kept things rolling as the junior pitcher retired the Longhorn's side of the fourth inning. Despite another strong inning from Pingree, the Gauchos offense stalled in producing any runs.
Coming in for Pingree, freshman Lena Mayer made her collegiate debut in the fifth inning. After a fielding error, a single down the third base line, and a walk, the Longhorns loaded the bases with no outs. After a hit by pitch, the fifth inning splurge by Texas officially began. With multiple wild pitches, fielding errors, and the second Longhorn homer of the game, the Gauchos conceded13 runs in fifth inning.
Finishing the bottom of the fifth inning with two hits and a runner at third, the Gauchos offense was held without a single run for the game.
In following its loss to Texas, UCSB struggled against Northwestern, but came up with its first runs of the 2015 season, as the Wildcats took the 13-4 decision in five innings.
Kristen Clark and Arianna Palomares – hitting in the one and two spot, respectively – both led the team with a pair of hits in the game, as Palomares also added two RBI to the Gaucho effort. Shelby Wisdom also had a pair of RBI with a late-game double.
Northwestern got off to a hot start in tallying eight runs in the first inning behind a pair of home runs, including a grand slam. Alex Pingree came into the game for damage control and curbed the Wildcats' scoring spree by recording a strikeout and forcing a groundout to the shortstop.
While UCSB could not find a response at the plate in the second inning, Northwestern put up two more runs after drawing consecutive walks after loading the bases with two outs. Pingree got the Gauchos out of the inning in forcing Brianna LeBeau to groundout to second.
A UCSB fielding error gave the Wildcats a free run in the top of the third, but the Gauchos finally reached the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning thanks to a double from Arianna Palomares. Following back-to-back singles from Jaqueline Hinojosa and Kristen Clark, Palomares sent both runners home with a booming extra base hit delivered to deep right field, making the score 11-2.
After a quiet fourth inning, Northwestern woke up its bats and piled on two more runs in the top of the fifth inning giving them a commanding 13-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Looking to avoid another loss by mercy rule, UCSB needed to score four runs to push the game into the sixth inning. While Northwestern secured a quick first out, Clark kept UCSB's hopes alive with a single lined roped down the left field line, while Palomares hit a single of her own to right center to load the bases for Shelby Wisdom.
Hitting in the clean up spot, Wisdom came up with the two RBI double belted to left field to keep the Gauchos in the game. However, the Gauchos would come up short in the crucial inning, as Wildcat Kristen Wood finished the game with a strike out and a groundout to third to secure the win in a complete game effort.