SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On the first day of the 2018 season, the UC Santa Barbara softball team produced a strong showing with a 4-2 win over Santa Clara in the first game of the day, before falling 2-0 in a low-scoring pitcher's duel against Cal at the Capital City Kick Off hosted by Sacramento State.
The Gauchos wasted little time establishing an early lead, scoring a run apiece in the second, third and fourth innings to jump ahead 3-0.
Sophomore catcher Genesis Ramirez got the scoring started in the second inning with an RBI single up the middle to bring around Sierra Altmeyer, who walked to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a Rayna Cohen hit-by-pitch.
With the help of back-to-back singles to start the third inning, UCSB later loaded the bases after Alyssa Diaz was hit by a pitch, and Fines came around to score on a wild pitch to put the Gauchos ahead 2-0.
An RBI double to left center off the bat of Kayla Krantz highlighted the fourth for the Gauchos, meanwhile Santa Clara managed to scrape a run across after a leadoff triple was cashed in by a sacrifice fly.
Diaz got the run back for the Gauchos immediately with a homerun to right to leadoff the fifth and the Broncos brought one more across in the bottom half of the frame but that would do it scoring wise for both teams.
Lena Mayer (1-0) was dominant in her opening start, tossing a complete game while striking out a career-high seven batters. She scattered six hits while walking two and allowing just one earned run.
At the plate, Fines, a freshman right fielder, went 2-for-3 with a run in her collegiate debut while freshman left fielder Sammy Fabian also notched her first career-hit. Diaz, Altmeyer, Ramirez and Krant also recorded hits in the game for UCSB.
In the second game of the afternoon, the Gauchos went up against a familiar foe, in 2015 Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Zoe Conley, who transferred from CSUN to Cal two seasons ago. UCSB countered with sophomore pitcher Felisha Noriega, and the two went toe-to-toe in the pitcher's duel.
After a scoreless first and second inning, Cal capitalized with a runner on and two outs as Lindsay Rood hit a two-run homerun to right center to put the Golden Bears ahead 2-0.
The Gauchos threatened in the bottom of the seventh after a one out single from Diaz and a fielding error allowed the tying run to reach base, but UCSB was unable to overcome Conley in the circle.
Conley (1-0) finished with eight strikeouts while allowing just three hits in the complete game shutout. Noriega (0-1), meanwhile, also only allowed just three hits in seven innings while striking out two and walking three.
Diaz went 2-for-3 to lead the Gauchos at the plate.
UCSB (1-1) continues Capital City Kick Off action tomorrow, Feb. 10 with another game against Santa Clara beginning at 8:30 a.m. before taking on host Sacramento State at 10:45 a.m.