Feb. 4, 2009
Games No. 1-6
Kajikawa Classic (Tempe, Ariz.)
Friday, Feb. 6, 2009
UCSB vs. Oregon, 10 a.m.
UCSB vs. Wichita State, 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009
UCSB vs. McNeese State, 2:30 p.m.
UCSB vs. Wagner, 5 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009
UCSB vs. Penn State, 10:30 a.m.
UCSB vs. #7 Arizona, 1 p.m.
The Opening Pitch
The UC Santa Barbara softball team opens the 2009 season this weekend at the Kajikawa Classic being hosted by Arizona State. During the three-day event running Friday thru Sunday, the Gauchos will play six games, taking on Oregon, Wichita State, McNeese State, Wagner, Penn State and No. 7 Arizona.
Who Are These People?
The Gauchos return 12 letterwinners and six starters from the 2008 team that went 30-24 and took second place in the Big West Conference for only the second time in program history. Leading the veterans are 2008 Big West Field Player of the Year Tiffany Wright and three-time All-Big West selection Christine Ramos. All-Big West Honorable Mentions Jessica Ziegler and Tami Weston also return this season.
In Case You Missed It: 2008 In Review
The 2008 Gauchos posted an overall record of 30-24 and went 13-8 in Big West games. Santa Barbara set team records for single season batting average (.291), runs (243), hits (425), home runs (38), total bases (625) and RBI (216). The Gauchos also led the Big West in all of those categories as well as slugging percentage (.428) and on-base percentage (.357). Nationally, UCSB ranked in the top-50 for batting average, triples per game (0.22) and slugging percentage and ranked among the top-100 for scoring, home runs per game (0.7) and stolen bases per game (1.07). Not just a power offensively, the Gaucho defense led the conference with its .967 fielding percentage and ranked 57th nationally.
That's Coach Of The Year To You!
In her first season as a head coach, Brie Galicinao earned Big West Co-Coach of the Year honors, sharing the award with Long Beach State's Kim Sowder. Galicinao is the second consecutive UCSB softball coach to earn the conference honor in her first season with the program, following in the footsteps of her predecessor Kristy Schroeder (2002-07).
Taking On The Top
Never a team to shy away from a tough schedule, UCSB will play eight games this season against teams that are currently ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll and will also take-on two teams that are receiving votes in the poll. By March 11, the Gauchos will have faced seven teams that advanced to the 2008 NCAA Division I Regionals.
In the 2009 Big West Coaches Preseason Poll, the Gauchos were picked to finish third - tied with Cal Poly - out of the conference's eight teams. UCSB picked up one first-place vote while Long Beach State received the other seven. Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish second. The poll, however, isn't always the best indicator of how a season will end up. In 2008, UCSB was picked seventh in the preseason poll before taking second in conference.
The Wright Stuff
2008 Big West Field Player of the Year Tiffany Wright returns for her final season in a Gaucho jersey. Wright hit .350 last season with 40 runs, 62 hits, 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 40 RBI. She led the team with 113 total bases - which was a single season school record - and had a .638 slugging percentage.
Wright is currently tied for first on the UCSB all-time career home runs list with 23. She needs just one more homer to break free from the tie with Tonya Dias (1997-2000) and own the record outright.
Senior Christine Ramos, who is a three-time All-Big West honoree, will start at second base for the fourth consecutive season. Ramos currently owns the UCSB career batting record with her .346 average over the past three seasons. She ranks fourth for all-time hits (183) and is just 25 shy of tying Tonya Dias' record of 208. She is also fourth for runs scored (85), but would need 71 to catch-up to Mandy Edwards' school record of 156. Additionally, Ramos ranks eighth all-time for career stolen bases with 36.
Junior Jessica Ziegler will once again be back at first base this season. During her sophomore season, she found her way into the UCSB record books and now ranks sixth for single season runs (36) and tied for eighth in single season stolen bases (16). Ziegler, who follows Ramos at the top of the order, led the team with her 11 sacrifice bunts. The combination of Ramos and Ziegler accounted for 32% of the Gauchos runs and 53% of their stolen bases in 2008.
We're Going Streaking
Four Gaucho returners will carry hitting streaks into this weekend's games. Wright leads the crew after ending 2008 amidst an eight-game streak. The last four games of that streak were three-hit performances. Sophomore Jessica Beristianos carries a four-game streak into the Kajikawa Classic while juniors Priscilla Perez and Jessica Ziegler each had hits in the final three games of 2008.
The First Six
The best start to a season UCSB has had was eight consecutive wins in 1987. Three times in program history the Gauchos have gone 5-1 in their first six contests: 1990, 2002 and 2003.
After leading the Big West with its 2.03 ERA in 2007, UCSB's pitching slipped to the bottom of the conference rankings last year with its collective 3.82 ERA, the highest in program history. The Gauchos' ERA didn't prevent them from posting the second-best record in the Big West. UCSB returns all three pitchers from 2008: senior Tami Weston and juniors MeLinda Matsumoto and Lindsey Correa. Freshmen Krista Cobb and Jenny Liepman have also been added to create a very deep bullpen.
UCSB will play a total of 25 games on the road - including 18 games in the next three weeks - before hosting its home opener against San Diego on Mar. 11 at Campus Diamond.
Of the 12 returning letterwinners on the Gaucho roster, three have started every contest during their careers. Seniors Tiffany Wright and Christine Ramos have made the starting lineup in 153 consecutive games. Sophomore Jessica Beristianos started all 54 games of her rookie season.
UCSB has posted seven 30-win seasons in program history, including last season. This decade the Gauchos have had seven winning seasons and five 30+ win seasons. The 2007 and 2008 seasons marked just the second time in UCSB history that the program had consecutive 30-win seasons (the first being 2003 and 2004).
Oregon, which is receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll, returns 11 letterwinners - including seven starters - from the 2008 squad that posted a 35-29 overall record and qualified for NCAA Regionals. Oregon holds a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series with the Gauchos and won the last match-up in a 3-0 shutout on Feb. 26, 2006.
Studying The Shockers
Wichita State returns 11 letterwinners, including six starters from the 2008 campaign. The Shockers posted a 33-28 record last season. Wichita State holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Gauchos, but UCSB won the last pairing 2-1 on Feb. 12, 2005.
McNeese State posted a 23-36 record overall last season and finished fifth in the Southland Conference. The Cowgirls are under the direction of first-year head coach Natalie Poole. Saturday's match-up will be the first between UCSB and McNeese State.
Scouting the Seahawks
Wagner finished 2008 witha 27-22 overall record. The Seahawks return 10 letterwinners and five starters from that campaign. UCSB has never played Wagner.
Penn State Talking Points
The Nittany Lions went 34-22 in 2008 and return six position starters and two starting pitchers from last season. UCSB holds a 2-1 advantage in its all-time series with Penn State, though the Gauchos lost the last match-up, 2-1 on Mar, 8, 2006.
Here Kitty, Kitty...
No. 7 Arizona returns 12 players from the 2008 squad that went 41-19 and qualified for the College World Series. The Wildcats have posted a 13-1 record in their games against UCSB. The last meeting was over a decade ago when the Wildcats handed the Gauchos a 10-0 loss on Feb. 15, 1997.
For a chance to catch all of the Gauchos' games at Campus Diamond this season, the UCSB Athletics Department is, for the first-time, offering season tickets. Ticket prices are $50 for adults, $40 seniors (55 and over) and $24 youth (13 and under) and include all 16 home contests. With the purchase of a season ticket, you will also receive a free UCSB visor. Call (805) 893-UCSB or click here to purchase tickets.
On The Horizon
UCSB will continue tournament action next week at the Campbell/Cartier Classic being hosted by San Diego State. During the four-day event that runs Thursday, Feb. 12 thru Sunday, Feb. 15, UCSB will face No. 11 Stanford (twice), No. 21 Washington, Utah State, No. 24 Long Beach State and No. 25 San Diego State.
- UCSBgauchos.com -