Gauchos Host No. 18 Long Beach State as Big West Play Continues

Sammy Fabian (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Sammy Fabian (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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The Schedule
Saturday, Apr. 21, 2018 at 1:00 & 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 18 Long Beach State (33-9, 7-2 Big West)
All-Time Series Record: 36-83-1
2017 Series: UCSB, 2-1
Last Meeting: Apr. 23, 2017 - UCSB def. LBSU, 4-3 (8)

Sunday, Apr. 22, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 18 Long Beach State

The Week Ahead
The UC Santa Barbara softball team continues Big West action this weekend with a three-game series against No. 18 Long Beach State (33-9, 7-2) beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 21 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. with the series finale on Sunday, Apr. 22 at 1:00 p.m.

The Week in Review
Last weekend, the Gauchos took two-out-of-three against the Rainbow Wahine of Hawai'i, dropping the opener 3-2 before bouncing back in a big way with an 8-0 (6) run-rule victory followed by a 6-5 walk-off in the eighth inning. on a Maci Fines RBI single It was the second conference series in-a-row that UCSB has won and the Gauchos now sit in a three-way tie for third with a 4-5 conference record. Sophomore pitcher Felisha Noriega was sensational during the Hawai'i series, allowing just two hits while striking out nine in six shutout innings on Saturday and pitched 5.1 innings in the night cap while striking out three more. 

Battle with the Beach
The Gauchos welcome a talented Long Beach State team that is ranked No. 18 in the nation and sits in second-place in the Big West after losing two-out-of-three to conference leader Cal State Fullerton last weekend. Prior to dropping two straight to the Titans, the 49ers had won 14 games in a row since a 6-5 loss to UCLA on Mar. 11. LBSU leads the Big West by a wide margin with a .318 batting average, which ranks 17th in the nation. Two players, Nichole Fry (.408) and Naomi Hernandez (.400) are batting over .400, while Taylor Rowand leads the team with 10 homeruns, 50 RBIs and is third with a .383 batting average. In the circle,  reigning Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Cielo Meza (18-3, 1.34 ERA) has continued her dominance as a sophomore and has two no-hitters this season while ranking 19th in the nation with 172 strikeouts.  

We Love Doubleheaders
The Gauchos have now swept their past two doubleheaders, bouncing back from series opening losses at UC Davis and at home against Hawai'i, to take both series' with doubleheader sweeps. Two weekends ago, UCSB dropped a 2-0 pitcher's duel to the Aggies before snagging a 2-1 and 4-0 victory over UCD to win the series. Last weekend, the Gauchos were edged 3-2 by the Rainbow Wahine before responding with an 8-0 run-rule victory and a 6-5 walk-off to take the series against Hawai'i. 

Extra, Extra! Read All About It
After a 6-5 walk-off win in extra innings last Saturday, UCSB is now 4-1 in extra innings this season. The Gauchos topped Sacramento State 8-7 in nine innings on the road early in the season and have since won in walk-off fashion three times at Campus Diamond. Their lone loss came at the hands of San Diego, 3-2, at the Gaucho Classic I. 

Fine Under Pressure
After hitting a walk-off RBI single on Saturday against Hawai'i to clinch the series win, freshman Maci Fines has now had her hand in all three of the Gauchos' walk-off victories this season. Fines scored the game-winning run in a 5-4 walk-off against San Diego and scored the game-tying run in the 11th inning of a 5-4 marathon win against Seattle. She is hitting .393 (11-for-28) since Big West play began. 

By the Numbers
Through 42 games thus far, UCSB is batting .273 (309-for-1,130), good for fourth best in the Big West Conference, while averaging 3.7 runs per game. The Gauchos have 18 homeruns and 75 extra base hits along with a .333 on-base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage. Opponents have scored 5.6 runs per game against UCSB. The Gauchos' pitching staff has a 4.28 ERA as a group, having allowed 171 earned runs in 280.0 innings pitched with 159 strikeouts. 

Diaz On a Tear
Sophomore first basemen Alyssa Diaz has been on a tear at the plate since Big West action began and leads all players with a .464 batting average (13-for-28) through nine conference games. The South El Monte, Calif. native is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak, her best of the season, and leads UCSB with 12 multi-hit games (10 two-hit games, two three-hit games). Diaz was instrumental in the Gauchos' series win at UC Davis, as she provided the game-winning RBI in game two and went 3-for-4 in the rubber match. Against Hawai'i, Diaz tallied three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored in three games. Overall, Diaz leads UCSB with 22 RBIs, is tied for first with five homeruns and is second with a .343 batting average. 

Schuttish Shuttin' Em Down
Freshman Emily Schuttish (3-4) has made her mark for the Gauchos in the past few weeks and has become a consistent, reliable force for UCSB's staff. After impressive performances early on in her career, Schuttish has seen her work load continue to increase and she has not disappointed. After two gutsy outings against UC Davis last weekend, where she racked up 10 strikeouts in a shutout win and a 2-0 loss, Schuttish tossed a complete game against Hawai'i on Friday, scattering seven hits while allowing just one earned run in a 3-2 loss. She has lowered her ERA to a team-leading 2.78 mark in 60.1 innings and has 37 strikeouts. 

Fabulous Freshmen
Freshmen Sammy Fabian, Rayna Cohen, Maci Fines and Alyssa Lazatin have made immediate impacts for the Gauchos this season and are four of the top seven hitters, statistically speaking, in the lineup. Fabian recently regained the team lead with a .362 batting average (42-for-116) after going 6-for-13 in three games against Hawai'i over the weekend. Cohen is one of just three Gauchos batting over .300, hitting .302 (29-for-96) to go along with two homeruns and 19 RBIs. Fines has been hot since conference play began and has upped her overall average to .261 while Lazatin is batting .252.