UCSB Looks to Continue Strong Start at Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

Veronika Gulvin
Veronika Gulvin

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The Schedule
Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Cathedral City, Calif. 

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Fordham
All-Time Series Record: First Meeting

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 UCLA
All-Time Series Record: 4-62

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 23 Cal
All-Time Series Record: 3-21

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Sacramento State
All-Time Series Record: 25-16

Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 21 Utah
All-Time Series Record: 2-7

Monday Feb. 19, 2018 at 1:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. LMU
All-Time Series Record: 21-18

Strong Start at Capital City Kick-Off
The UC Santa Barbara softball team started the season on the right foot with a 4-1 showing at the Capital City Kick-Off, hosted by Sacramento State last weekend. The Gauchos strung together a run in four straight innings in the season-opener, while Lena Mayer tossed a complete game, to defeat Santa Clara 4-2 on opening day. After falling 2-0 in a pitcher's duel against Cal, UCSB bounced back with a 5-4 win in another close game against Santa Clara. Taking on the host Hornets, the Gauchos rallied for an 8-7 come-from-behind victory in nine innings and rounded out tournament play with an 8-4 win over Sacramento State the following day. 

Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Preview
This weekend, UCSB heads to Cathedral City, Calif. for the 2018 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The annual tournament features some of the top teams in the nation, and the Gauchos will begin play against Fordham, followed by No. 5 UCLA on Saturday night. Sunday will see UCSB playing a pair of rematches from last weekend, with a tilt against No. 23 Cal before facing Sacramento State for the third time. On Monday, the Gauchos will wrap up tournament action against No. 21 Utah and LMU. 

I've Got the Power
UCSB's power was on full display at the Capital City Kick-Off, blasting four homeruns in five games, with one apiece coming from four different Gauchos. A trio of sophomores in Kayla Krantz, Alyssa Diaz and Genesis Ramirez all hit homeruns while freshman Rayna Cohen also got in on the action. Overall, UCSB finished with 10 extra base hits, with six doubles to go along with its four homeruns. 

Offensive Leaders
After opening weekend, sophomore first basemen Alyssa Diaz leads the Gauchos with a .563 (9-for-16) batting average while senior outfielder Jessica Johnston had a strong opening weekend as well and is hitting .350 (7-for-20). Sophomore third baseman Kayla Krantz leads the team with seven RBIs, four of which came in an 8-4 win over Sacramento State and is also tied with Diaz for the team lead in doubles with two. 

In the Circle
It was a strong weekend all around for the UCSB pitching staff, combining for a 1.89 ERA in 37 innings through five games. Felisha Noriega went 2-1 in the circle with both wins coming against Sacramento State during the final two games of the tournament. Despite a complete game three-hitter, her loss came at the hands of Cal in a 2-0 defeat. In 13.1 innings, senior Lena Mayer tallied a team-high 11 strikeouts, including a career-best seven in the season-opener against Santa Clara. She finished the weekend with one victory and a save while posting a 1.57 ERA. Junior Veronika Gulvin also appeared for 5.2 innings, recording a 1.24 ERA and picking up a win against Santa Clara. 

Fines Off to a Fine Start
Freshman outfielder and leadoff hitter Maci Fines leads all Gaucho freshman with a .316 (6-for-19) batting average and leads UCSB with five runs scored. She went 2-for-3 with a run in her collegiate debut against Santa Clara and had a hit and scored in every game that the Gauchos won. 

Key Returners
Two-time All-Big West selection Sierra Altmeyer headlines the core group of returners for the Gauchos, who bring back seven starters from last season and 11 returners overall. Altmeyer led the team with a .354 batting average last year to go with 10 homeruns, 33 RBIs and 39 runs scored. Jessica Johnston returns for her senior year after a season where she hit .339 with five homeruns, 33 RBI and 34 runs. After a breakout freshman campaign, Alyssa Diaz, who hit .297 with three homeruns and a team-high 34 RBIs, also returns at first base. In the circle, ace Veronika Gulvin returns for her junior year, after posting a 17-14 record in 44 appearances and 31 starts while notching an impressive 2.69 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 205.2 innings pitched.

Incoming Talent
New to UCSB this spring will be freshmen outfielders Rayna Cohen (Woodland Hills, Calif. / de Toledo 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).

Preseason Poll
The Gauchos were selected to finish seventh in the annual Coaches Poll released by the Big West Conference earlier this week. Defending Big West champions Cal State Fullerton were selected as repeat winners with 57 votes, followed by Long Beach State (53), CSUN (43), Hawai'i (32), UC Riverside (31), Cal Poly (31), UCSB (29) and UC Davis (12).

New Coaches
Three-year staff member Alysia Hendricks will become a full-time assistant for the first time while the Gauchos also brought on board assistant coach Kacee Cox. Cox previously served as a volunteer assistant coach at Stanford and prior to that was a student-athlete at St. John's (N.Y.). "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 head coach Brie 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."