In their second weekend of play, the Southern Utah University softball team dropped a three-game series against the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their overall record is now 1-7, and they are last place in the Western Athletic Conference.
The 1 p.m. game on Friday, Feb. 17, saw the Gauchos taking a 10-2 victory over the Thunderbirds. It was cut short due to the mercy rule because UC Santa Barbara was leading by eight runs after the fifth.
The Thunderbirds went scoreless in the first while the Gauchos scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, jumping out to an early lead. Southern Utah starter Keimon Winston gave up five hits in the inning, including two extra-base hits.
Two Thunderbirds reached base in the second, but both were left stranded. UCSB continued their scoring with two runs on three hits.
SUU cut into the Gauchos’ lead in the third inning by getting two runs back. The Gauchos answered with four more runs in the bottom half. Both teams went on to go scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when the game was called.
Josey White and Emily Gonzalez provided the sole RBIs in the game. White went 2 for 3 and Gonzalez went 1 for 3. Jayne Sepulveda and Miranda Lopez both reached home and went 2 for 3 and 1 for 2, respectively. On the mound, Winston gave up 10 hits and nine runs, though only eight of them were earned. She walked two and struck out two through her two and a third innings pitched. Riley Nielson came on in relief for the final 1.2 innings and allowed two hits and one run with one strikeout. Winston was given the loss.
Bella Fuentes led UCSB with three RBIs, going 2 for 3. Sam Denehy also brought in two runs on her sole hit of the game, a double. Madelyn McNally went a perfect 3 for 3 this game and scored each time she reached base. Camryn Snyder pitched a complete game for the Gauchos, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. She had one strikeout but hit two batters. It was her second win of the season so far.
Also taking place on Friday, the second game of the series resulted in a 9-2 win for UC Santa Barbara. It went the full seven innings.
Southern Utah came out swinging to start with two hits in the first inning, but unfortunately, they didn’t score. UC Santa Barbara scored two runs on one hit in the bottom of the first, but both runs were unearned due to a Southern Utah error.
The Thunderbirds cut USCB’s lead in half during the second inning, scoring one unearned run. The Gauchos went hitless and scoreless in the bottom half but had one runner reach base on another error by SUU.
The third inning saw three hits by the Thunderbirds, resulting in one run and a tied game. The Gauchos answered back quickly and were up 3-2 by the end of the third.
After a scoreless fourth, the Gauchos scored six runs off five hits in the fifth. Neither team scored for the remainder of the game.
Alayah Toscano and Allie Laub brought in the two runs for SUU, and each had two hits in the game. Amyah Boostedt and Gonzalez scored the runs and reached base one and three times, respectively. Payton Goodrich was the starting pitcher for the Thunderbirds and was assigned the loss despite the three runs against her all being unearned. She allowed just four runners to reach base through her four innings pitched. Shelby Basso came into the game in the fifth inning and gave up six hits and six runs in addition to walking one and hitting two others.
Daryn Siegel had three RBIs for UCSB while scoring one run of her own and reaching base only once. Ashley Donaldson and Makayla Newsom also had two RBIs each. Donaldson was the only Gaucho with more than one hit after going 3 for 4. Ava Bradfor started the game but went just two and a third after giving up seven hits and two runs, although just one of them was earned. Ilona Sullivan came on in relief to pitch the remaining four and two-thirds. She struck out four batters and allowed just one hit, though she walked six. She earned both the win and the save, making her record 1-0.
The third game, played on Saturday, Feb. 18, was the closest of the series. The 5-4 game was a walk-off win for UC Santa Barbara.
After a scoreless first for both teams, the Gauchos jumped ahead by scoring one run on one hit in the second.
Southern Utah took the lead in the third, scoring two runs on three hits. However, a Gaucho error resulted in both runs being unearned.
No runs were scored until the top of the fifth when SUU gained a 4-1 edge over UCSB.
SUU kept the lead for the rest of the inning but gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth, allowing the game to be tied. The Gauchos had four hits in the inning.
After Southern Utah went scoreless in the top of the seventh, UC Santa Barbara took advantage by scoring the winning run with two outs in the final inning.
Sophia Masut and Gonzalez had the only three RBIs for the Thunderbirds with one and two, respectively, and the fourth run came after the Gauchos’ error. Gonzalez’s sole hit of the game was a two-run home run. Toscano went 3 for 4 in the game and scored two of SUU’s runs. White was their only other player with more than one hit and went 2 for 4 while scoring one run. Winston was the first pitcher for SUU and gave up the Gauchos’ first run, but she allowed just three hits and two walks. After 1.2 innings, Nielson came in to relieve Winston and finished the final five innings. She gave up 10 hits and four runs, all earned. Nielson took the loss after giving up the walk-off.
For UCSB, Chloe Stewart provided two RBIs, which was more than anyone on the team. McNally was also a notable contributor after going 4 for 5 with one RBI and one run scored. The entirety of the game was pitched by Malaya Johnson, who gave up just two earned runs despite allowing 10 Thunderbird hits.
Next weekend, Southern Utah will participate in the Fresno State Invitational, which will take place between Friday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 26. They are scheduled to play five games.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield