UCSB rebounded from a 9-1, six-inning loss to No. 11 Michigan and defeated Syracuse, 8-1, in its second pairing Friday, the opening day of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Lead-Off Classic in Columbus, Ga. With the split, UCSB’s record remains at 8-8.
The Gauchos freshmen were impressive at the plate, as right fielder Katie McWhirter went 3-for-7 on the day, with a double, a run, and three RBIs. Shortstop Jessica Beristianos was 4-for-5 during the two games, with a double, a run and two RBIs.
In Friday’s first game, against Michigan (14-2), both teams remained scoreless in the first two innings before UCSB posted the first run in the top of the third. Senior Nicole Churnock led off with a double to right center before the next two Gauchos batters went down swinging. A McWhirter double with two outs sent Churnock home to put the Gauchos ahead, 1-0. Tisha Duran, a senior from Ventura College and Buena High, singled on the next play, but McWhirter was called out at home to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Roya St. Clair led off with a home run, and a triple from Angela Findlay with two runners on brought home a second Wolverines run, allowing Michigan to take a 2-1 advantage.
Seven additional Michigan runs over the fourth and sixth innings, including five in the latter, brought a premature end to the game as the Wolverines captured the 9-1 victory.
Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto (1-5) took the loss in the circle after allowing eight earned runs off of seven hits in 5.1 innings of work. All five of Matsumoto’s losses this season have come against teams currently ranked in the ESPN/USA Softball Top 25 Poll.
In the day’s second game, against winless Syracuse (0-10), junior Christine Ramos led off with a triple in the bottom of the first inning before a McWhirter single one out later brought her home to give the Gauchos a 1-0 lead. UCSB added another run in the second inning when an error allowed Beristianos to score unearned.
The Gauchos stretched their lead to 4-0 in the third off of an RBI single from Danielle Meyers and an RBI double from Beristianos. Syracuse brought home its only run of the game in the top of the fifth, cutting the Gauchos’ advantage to 4-1.
In the sixth, back-to-back singles from McWhirter and Duran put two runners on with just one out before a throwing error from the pitcher sent McWhirter across home plate. A single from Jackie Conlin loaded the bases before Kelsey Anderson, a sophomore from Righetti High in Santa Maria, earned a walk that sent Duran home. Another single from Beristianos posted the third run of the inning before Churnock grounded out to shortstop during the next at-bat, driving home a fourth run. The Gauchos finished with the 8-1 victory.
As a team, UCSB tallied a season-high 12 hits in the win over Syracuse. Beristianos led the way, going 3-for-3 with one run and two RBIs. McWhirter went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run while Tiffany Wright was 2-for-4 with two runs.
Lindsey Correa (4-3) picked up the win in the circle after allowing just one run on three hits while walking five and fanning seven batters in seven innings of work.
UCSB will be back in action Saturday against North Carolina State and No. 18 Mississippi State.
Lisa Skvarla is UCSB’s assistant media relations director.