SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After posting a 31-28 record in 2017, finishing in a three-way tie for second-place in the Big West and advancing to the Inaugural Postseason National Invitational Softball Championship, the UC Santa Barbara softball team will look to build on its recent success in 2018.
Despite graduating four-time All-Big West honoree and UCSB's all-time hits leader in Kristen Clark, the Gauchos return 11 players from last season, including seven starters.
Highlighting the returning group is junior second basemen Sierra Altmeyer, who is coming off a blistering sophomore campaign where she hit .354 with 10 homeruns, 33 RBIs, and 39 runs scored en route to First Team All-Big West accolades.
Joining Altmeyer on the All-Big West Team last season was Jessica Johnston, Alyssa Diaz and Veronika Gulvin. Johnston, a senior outfielder, finished second on the team with a .339 batting average while compiling 63 hits and 34 runs scored to go with five homeruns and 33 RBIs. Diaz, a sophomore first basemen, burst on the scene as a freshman in 2017, hitting .297 with three homeruns and 34 RBIs.
Returning in the circle will be Gulvin, who posted a 2.69 ERA in 205.2 innings pitched a year ago. The local Dos Pueblos High School product finished with a 16-14 record and racked up 82 strikeouts in 44 total appearances.
New to UCSB this spring will be freshmen outfielders Rayna Cohen (Woodland Hills, Calif. / de Toldeo HS), Sammy Fabian (Glendale, Calif. / Glendale HS), Alyssa Lazatin (Mission Viejo, Calif. / Capistrano Valley HS), infielder Maci Fines (Elk Grove, Calif. / Sheldon HS) and pitcher Emily Schuttish (Napa, Calif. / Vintage HS).
Brie Galicinao returns for her 11th season at the helm of the Gauchos and sits at 271 career wins, putting her within reach of 300 in 2018. Her staff will be rounded out by first-year full-timer Alysia Hendricks, who has spent three seasons with UCSB, and first-year coach Kacee Cox, who spent last season as a volunteer assistant at Stanford.
"I'm excited to have Alysia and Kacee on staff full time with their experience as coaches and collegiate athletes as well as their educational backgrounds," said Galicinao. "They're a great fit for UCSB. Our staff has worked well together throughout the fall and pre-season and we're looking forward to starting season next week."
UCSB opens the season next weekend, Feb. 9-11, in Sacramento, Calif. at the Capital City Kick-Off with games against Santa Clara, Cal and Sacramento State.
The following weekend will see the Gauchos travel to Cathedral City, Calif. for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with key games against Pac-12 opponents UCLA, Cal and Utah.
After two weeks on the road, UCSB returns to Campus Diamond to host San Diego and Dayton at the Gaucho Classic I, Feb. 22-25, while the Gauchos Classic II will feature Seattle, Cal State Bakersfield and St. Mary's and run from Mar. 23-25.
The Gauchos will also compete in the Citrus Classic II from Mar. 2-4 in Kissimmee, Fla. as well as the Bulldog Classic from Mar. 9-11 in Fresno, Calif., with a home doubleheader against Florida Gulf Coast sandwiched in between on Mar. 7.
During conference play, UCSB will host a trio of series at Campus Diamond. Back-to-back weekends in April will see Hawai'i come to town Apr. 13-14 before a series with Long Beach State Apr. 21-22.
The Gauchos will round out the regular season with a Blue-Green Rivalry series against Cal Poly May 11-12.