DAVIS, Calif. – After a tough 2-0 defeat in the series opener on Saturday, the UC Santa Barbara softball team bounced back with a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, topping UC Davis 2-1 and 4-0 to steal the series from the Aggies at La Rue Field.
The Gauchos (15-24, 2-4 Big West) got a masterful performance from Felisha Noriega (4-5), who has battled through injuries to start the season. The sophomore Rancho Cucamonga native tossed a complete game while scattering seven hits and allowing just one run while striking out two and walking two.
Offensively, Maci Fines paced UCSB with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, accounting for all but one of the Gauchos hits in the game.
In the third inning, Fines got the scoring started by doubling in her first at bat, and came around to score after an Aggies error on a ball hit to centerfield by Sammy Fabian.
The Aggies managed to string two hits together in the bottom half of the fifth and scored their lone run on an RBI groundout.
Despite a leadoff double for UC Davis in the bottom of the seventh, Noriega sent the next three batters down in order to strand the tying run on third and give UCSB its first conference win of the year.
In the second game of the afternoon, the Gauchos got yet another gritty pitching performance, and the second in back-to-back days from freshman Emily Schuttish (3-3). The Napa, Calif. native pitched a complete game shutout while allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five.
The UCSB offense, meanwhile, broke out for 11 hits, its most since it totaled 13 against Cleveland St. on Mar. 11. The Gauchos are now 7-2 when tallying double-digit hits in a game.
After two scoreless innings to start the game, UCSB brought three runs across in the third to jump out to an early lead. With one out, Ramirez got the rally started with a single to center and was followed by a Fabian single to left. With two on, Sierra Altmeyer singled through the left side to bring home Ramirez. After a Rayna Cohen walk loaded the bases, Melanie Menor came through in the clutch with a two-RBI single through the right side.
In the fourth, Fines reached on a bunt single with one out and was followed by back-to-back singles from none other than Ramirez and Fabian to load the bases once again. Diaz stepped up to the dish and drove home Fines with a single to center.
Fabian and Diaz both went 3-for-4 at the plate while Ramirez finished 2-for-4 to lead the hot-hitting Gauchos.
UCSB continues conference play with a series against Hawai'i at Campus Diamond, beginning with a single game on Friday, Apr. 13 at 3:00 p.m.