The Southern Utah University softball team will head to the Golden State this weekend to play a series against the University of California, Santa Barbara. The two teams have met four times before, beginning in 2014, and UCSB has won every game. These will be their first matchups since 2017.
Last weekend the Thunderbirds went 1-4 in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Classic Tournament. They fell to Baylor University twice, the University of Arkansas once, and went 1-1 against UNLV.
Emily Gonzalez and Jayne Sepulveda both hit over .500 in the tournament with seven and eight hits, respectively. Gonzalez is tied with Josey White for most runs batted in with three, and Capri Franzen and Madison Sanders each have two. Sanders’ RBIs came from a two-run home run against UNLV, Southern Utah’s only home run of the tournament. Sepulveda, having reached base nine times throughout the weekend, scored a team-leading five runs. The Thunderbirds are hitting .216 as a team with a .283 on-base percentage.
Keimon Winston pitched over 10 innings for the Thunderbirds and started three of the five games. She earned the sole win of the tournament. She put up a 4.06 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .341 against her. Payton Goodrich led all SUU pitchers in strikeouts after putting down six batters. She also had the best walks and hits per innings pitched average with 1.71. Riley Nielson, Shelby Basso, and Capri Franzen all made appearances on the mound as well.
Southern Utah had just three errors throughout the five games and had a .977 fielding percentage through 133 chances.
UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos have played four games so far with two losses to the University of Nevada and two wins against the University of North Dakota. Overall, they outscored their opponents 28-15.
Bella Fuentes hit .727 over the weekend, reaching base nine times in 12 plate appearances. She brought in three RBIs and scored four times herself. Korie Thomas led the team in RBIs with four despite having just two hits, both of which were triples. Many players on the team are relatively speedy, as shown by the Gauchos’ five stolen bases. As a team, they hit .327 with a .468 on-base percentage.
Camryn Snyder pitched the bulk of the weekend and collected a 5.42 ERA, but she struck out 10 batters over 10.1 innings. She pitched a complete game against North Dakota where she allowed just two runs in the win. Ava Bradford earned the other win against North Dakota, giving up just one earned run and collecting a 1.62 ERA. Malaya Johnson pitched a complete game against Nevada and gave up only two runs despite the loss. Ilona Sullivan also made an appearance but only pitched two-thirds of an inning.
The Gauchos committed three errors in their four games and have a .970 fielding percentage.
All three games will be at UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18. Friday will see the first game at 1 p.m. MST, and a second game will follow shortly after. The final game of the series will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST. The games can be streamed on ESPN+.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield