Gauchos Split Doubleheader with Western Carolina

Felisha Noriega (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Felisha Noriega (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On a blustery Tuesday afternoon at Campus Diamond, the UC Santa Barbara softball team split a doubleheader against visiting Western Carolina, defeating the Catamounts 7-0 in game one before falling 10-7 in the nightcap.

Game 1
Junior pitcher Felisha Noriega delivered her best performance of the season in the first game of the afternoon, tossing a two-hit shutout while striking out five and walking three to pick up her fifth win of the year.

After allowing a hit in the first inning, Noriega held the Catamounts hitless for five straight innings along with striking out the side in the second. It was the first shutout of the season for UCSB.

It was an all-around victory for the Gauchos, who racked up a season-high 12 hits on the offensive end with five different players tallying multi-hit games. Sammy Fabian, Genesis Ramirez, Rayna Cohen, Teah Thies and Tyler Goldstein all finished with two hits apiece while Ramirez also added two runs and two RBIs and Thies drove in a pair of runs.

Santa Barbara wasted no time getting on the board, putting up three quick runs in the bottom of the first inning behind heads up base running and five singles. A perfectly executed double steal saw Maci Fines steal home, and Fabian take second and head to third on an error, ultimately coming around to score on a Ramirez single. An RBI single from Thies later in the inning brought in Ramirez.

Thies was back at it again in the third, driving in Ramirez yet again, after Ramirez was hit by a pitch to reach earlier in the frame. A Cohen double was cashed in for the second run of the inning on a Melanie Menor groundout to second, giving UCSB a 5-0 lead.

An RBI groundout from Fines gave the Gauchos a 6-0 advantage in the fourth, and UCSB made it 7-0 with another run on an RBI single from Ramirez in the sixth.  

Game 2
In the second game of the day, the Gauchos took an early lead and rallied late, but a big fifth and sixth inning for Western Carolina proved to be too much in the 10-7 loss for Santa Barbara.

UCSB took advantage of three Catamount errors in the bottom of the first, scoring on one error and bringing home another on an RBI single from Cohen to take an early 2-0 lead.

WCU took its first lead of the day with three runs on three hits in the third, but the Gauchos would respond to tie the game at 3-3 after another RBI single from Thies.

After a scoreless fourth, Western Carolina tacked on three in the fifth and four in the sixth behind six hits, including a pair of triples, to go ahead 10-4.

UCSB staged one last rally in the seventh, loading the bases with one out after a Ramirez walk, and singles from Carissa Felix and Thies. A Menor groundout brought home Ramirez and Alyssa Lazatin singled in Felix to make it 10-6. A WCU error made it 10-7 and brought the tying run to the plate, but the Catamounts would get out of the jam.

Veronika Gulvin started in the circle and tossed a total of 4.2 innings after re-entering later in the game. Gulvin scattered five hits and allowed just one earned run while striking out two. Emily Schuttish was handed the loss after 2.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with two walks.

At the plate, Thies finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI and Fabian finished 2-for-3 with two runs. UCSB outhit WCU 11-10 and eight different Gauchos finished with a hit in the game.  

Santa Barbara (6-17) heads to the LMU Tournament this Thursday, Mar. 14 for its next matchup against Oklahoma at 9:00 a.m.