Softball Drops Opening Day Contests at Kickoff Classic

Felisha Noriega (Jeff Liang)
Felisha Noriega (Jeff Liang)

FRESNO, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara softball team opened the 2021 season with a pair of defeats to Pacific, both by a 6-5 final score, at the Kickoff Classic hosted by Fresno State.

Game One – Pacific 6, UCSB 5

The Gauchos built up an early lead and at one point had a 5-1 advantage, but Pacific rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to claim victory.

Freshman second baseman Nayah Pola batted in the first run of the new season with a single down the right field line in the second inning scoring freshman third baseman Ashley Donaldson, who had reached base with a hit in her first career at-bat and stole second.

The Gauchos doubled up one inning later thanks to sophomore right fielder Ally Nodohara on a two-out RBI single to center, getting freshman shortstop Madelyn McNally across the plate.

Pacific brought back a run in the fourth, but then UCSB put together a three-run inning in the fifth when Nodohara picked up her second RBI of the afternoon to once again score McNally, then junior first baseman Rayna Cohen took advantage of a Pacific error to cross the plate, and Pola picked up the second RBI of her own afternoon with a single that scored Donaldson to make it 5-1 for the blue and gold.

Then the Tigers took over in the bottom half of the frame, with preseason All-West Coast Conference pick Myka Sutherlin sending a two-run blast over the fence to cut the deficit to two runs, then a fielder's choice resulting in another run, followed up by a Rian Dirmeyer RBI double to tie things up, and Madeline Domingo giving the Tigers what would be the eventual game-winning run with an RBI double down the left field line.

Game Two – Pacific 6, UCSB 5

Pacific carried over the momentum from game one and turned it into a 5-0 lead through three innings, and the Gaucho response fell just short at the end as the Tigers completed their sweep of the afternoon's games.

A four-run second inning put the Tigers up 4-0, then Dirmeyer added another run on an RBI triple in the third.

McNally kickstarted UCSB's comeback attempt in the bottom of the fourth by reaching home on an error, cutting the Pacific lead to 5-1.

The Tigers added a sixth run through a Jessica Mabrey RBI double to left center, but the Gauchos went back to work in the bottom half, scoring two runs after freshman pinch-runner Lauren Lewis scored on an error and junior left fielder Sammy Fabian batted in sophomore center fielder Tyler Goldstein to cut the Pacific lead to 6-3.

Thomas singled through the left side to score Donaldson in the following inning and Nodohara scored on a fielder's choice with two outs in the seventh to get the Gauchos one run away from tying the game, but Pacific pitcher Bethany Hammer was able to get the strikeout in the game's final at-bat to end the day with a pair of wins for the Tigers.

The Gauchos face Fresno State tomorrow afternoon at Margie Wright Diamond. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be livestreamed on GoBulldogs.com. A link to live stats will be posted on the softball schedule page once available.