Gauchos Rally Late in Conference-Opening Doubleheader Contests, but Fall 4-3 and 7-3

Korie Thomas (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Korie Thomas (Photo by Jeff Liang)

HONOLULU, Hawai'i – The UC Santa Barbara softball team put up runs in the seventh inning in both of its Big West-opening games at Hawai'i's Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium on Friday night, but they fell short of making the comeback on both occasions as it dropped to 3-15 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.

Game one: Hawai'i 4, UCSB 3

The Gauchos put on a pair of runs in the top of the third and led until Maya Nakamura hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that would vault Hawai'i into the lead. Despite UCSB tacking on a run in the top of the seventh with one out, the Rainbow Wahine hung onto their lead to take the win.

In the top of the third with bases loaded and two outs, UCSB sophomore catcher Teah Thies was hit by a pitch, bringing in the first run of the game for the Gauchos.

The following at-bat, freshman right fielder Sam Denehy earned a walk to cycle the bases once again and score another run.

Hawai'i's Angelique Ramos pulled back a run with an RBI single down the left field line in the bottom of the third, scoring Brittnee Rossi.

The Gauchos' junior ace Emily Schuttish and Rainbow Wahine pitcher Jetta Nannen each allowed just one hit over the fourth and fifth innings, but in the bottom of the sixth Gaucho errors got runners on first and second for Hawai'i and Nakamura broke the silence with a three-run homer to left field to take the lead, 4-2.

Down for the first time in the game, the Gauchos attempted to grab the lead right back in the top of the seventh. Freshman third baseman Ashley Donaldson doubled to left field and then advanced to third after junior left fielder Sammy Fabian singled in the next at-bat. Then, junior second baseman Maci Fines singled up the middle to score Donaldson and get the Gauchos back within one.

Following a Rainbow Wahine pitching change from Nannen to Emily Klee, Thies then loaded the bases with a single through the right side.

Denehy was next to bat and hit a ground ball to the third baseman, but with the bases loaded Fabian had to attempt to advance home and was forced out on the throw back to the plate.

Then, Klee earned the final out by forcing an infield popup, earning the Rainbow Wahine their first win of the season.

Game two: Hawai'i 7, UCSB 3

The Rainbow Wahine had control of the second contest throughout, scoring four runs in the second and three runs in the fifth, before UCSB put together a seventh-inning rally, but fell short as Hawai'i clinched the series win.

Sammie Ofoia scored Rachel Sabourin on a sac fly in the bottom of the second before Bree Soma hit a three-run homer to left center to put the Rainbow Wahine up 4-0.

In the bottom of the fifth, the power hitting continued with a two-run shot to left from Nawai Kaupe.

Later in the inning, the hosts added a seventh run thanks to a Gaucho error.

UCSB kept up the fight, however, in the seventh inning as freshman shortstop Madelyn McNally hit a one-out single and Donaldson walked to set up Fabian, who doubled to right center and put the Gauchos on the board.

Hawai'i earned a second out in the next at-bat, but then Thies sent Fabian and Donaldson across the plate with a two-RBI double to right field, cutting the deficit to 7-3.

However, the Rainbow Wahine were able to finish the game off by recording an out on a fielder's choice at third base in the final at-bat of the game.

The Gauchos take on the Rainbow Wahine in a doubleheader tomorrow night at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. PDT. Only the first game will count in the Big West conference standings, as it completes a three-game series, the maximum countable amount of games between two teams. The second game on Saturday will be a non-conference contest. Live stats will be available on UCSBGauchos.com.