February 8, 2006

UCSB Opens the 2006 Campaign On the Road With SDSU's Campbell/Cartier Tournament

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Feb. 8, 2006

• The Schedule
Games No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
San Diego State's Campbell/Cartier Tournament
at Aztec Softball Stadium

Thursday, February 9, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Sacramento State Hornets @ 1:00 p.m.
Friday, February 10, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Massachusetts Minutewomen @ 9:00 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UCLA Bruins @ 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. California Golden Bears @ 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Oklahoma State Cowgirls @ 11: 00 a.m.

• The Gaucho Record
0-0 Overall/0-0 Big West Conference
0-0 Home/0-0 Away/0-0 Neutral

• Gaucho Goods
UC Santa Barbara kicks off the season this weekend with San Diego State's Campbell/Cartier Tournament. UCSB returns nine letterwinners and seven starters from last year's squad, one that was very sound both offensively and defensively, setting a number of school records in 2005. In addition, the Gauchos return three of their four All-Big West honorees from a season ago. With a roster highlighted by All-Big West Second Team selections Jennifer Davis and Brittany Putich, along with honorable mention honoree Kendra Singley, the Gauchos have the nucleus of the team back for the 2006 season. The Gauchos also usher in one of the most talented recruiting classes the program has ever seen. The new crop of players will have an immediate impact and add the depth that UCSB so desperately needed last season.

• A Look Back At 2005
After recording the highest conference finsih in school history and advancing to their first ever NCAA Tournament in 2004, expectations were high for the UC Santa Barbara softball program a season ago, but a number of injuries derailed the team's progress and UCSB finished the 2005 campaign with an overall record of 26-22 and a 9-12 mark in the always-tough Big West Conference. Facing 11 teams that had qualified for the NCAA tournament the year before and eight opponents ranked in the Top 25, Santa Barbara posted a 17-10 nonconference record, including impressive wins over Oregon State, Oregon and Fresno State. Through 14 games, each of the Gauchos' losses came at the hands of a ranked foe. After winning 12 out of 15 at one point in league play, the Gauchos lost their last six contests and finished fifth place in the conference standings. The squad's effort to return to the postseason fell short.

• Tough Competition
In an effort to prepare themselves for the high level of competition in the Big West, the Gauchos will play yet another challenging nonconference slate in 2006. UCSB is scheduled to face a total of 14 opponents that advanced to the Big Dance in 2005 and six of those teams earned seeds in last year's softball championships. The 2006 schedule also includes a March 5th matchup with National Semi-Finalist Tennessee and three bouts with National Runner-Up UCLA, the first of which is Friday, followed by a March 28 doubleheader in Los Angeles. The Gauchos will be tested right out of the gates this season with four out of their five games in this weekend's Campbell/Cartier Tournament coming against 2005 tournament teams. Santa Barbara opens with Sacramento State before squaring off with Massachusetts, UCLA, Cal and Oklahoma State, all of which advanced to the postseason a year ago. UCSB's opponents in their season-opening tournament had a combined record of 188-94-1 in 2005.

• The Road Ahead
If the Gauchos are going to be successful this season, they are going to have to win games on the road. Of the 53 games on the schedule in 2006, 35 of those will be played outside of sunny Santa Barbara. That means that UCSB will play only 18 games within the friendly confines of Campus Diamond, where they went 14-8 in 2005. The Gauchos posted a 12-14 record on the road last season, going 8-11 in true road games and 4-3 in neutral site contests.

• Fountain of Youth ?
As the trend has been with the teams of the last few years. the 2006 Gauchos are a very young team once again. Boasting a roster comprised of mostly underclassmen and without a single senior, UCSB will field seven juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen this season. The team will rely on the leadership and experience of its core group of juniors that started a combined 250 games last year, but also demand production from the newcomers at the same time. In all, there are ten new faces on this year's roster--one junior and three sophomores to go along with the six freshmen. Despite the lack of experience at the Division I level, the 2006 recruting class is very talented and should make an immediate impact this season.

• In the Dugout with Coach Schroeder
Kristy Schroeder enters her fifth season at the helm of the UC Santa Barbara softball program and continues to foster a commitment to excellence and a high level of success. Her impact on the program has been immeasureable, as she has turned a very mediocre program into one of the top squads in the conference each and every year. She took a team that was plagued by injuries in 2005 and posted a 26-22 overall record, playing one the most difficult schedules the program had ever seen. She notched her 100th victory as head coach at UCSB February 26. In 2004, she led the Gauchos to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance after guiding them to a 32-31 overall record and a 14-7 conference mark, which was tied for second in the Big West and was the highest league finish in UCSB history. In addition, the Gauchos won 30-plus games in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever as a Division I program. In 2003 she guided the team to the best record in program history at 34-22 and had a school-record nine players named All-Big West, with two receiving All-Region accolades. In 2002, her first season at UCSB, she was named the Big West's Co-Coach of the Year, after Santa Barbara finished the season with a 27-36 overall record--an increase of nine wins from the year before. In seven seasons as head coach at UCSB and • The Road Ahead If the Gauchos are going to be successful this season, they are going to have to win games on the road. Of the 53 games on the schedule in 2006, 35 of those will be played outside of sunny Santa Barbara. That means that UCSB will play only 18 games within the friendly confines of Campus Diamond, where they went 14-8 in 2005. The Gauchos posted a 12-14 record on the road last season, going 8-11 in true road games and 4-3 in neutral site contests.

• Fresh Faces
The Gauchos' commitment to become an elite program starts at the very top and two new additions to the coaching staff should pay instant dividends this season. Joining Schroeder are assistant coaches Brie Galicinao and Jessica Mendoza in their first seasons with the program. Galicinao was an All-American at Princeton where she became the first Ivy League player ever to win both Pitcher and Player of the Year in the same season, while Mendoza, a current member of Team USA, won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Hit .415 with four homeruns for San Clemente HS
1B - Tiffany Wright - A three-time All Mountain View League and All-CIF First Team selection at Santiago HS
2B - Christine Ramos - Twice named Most Outstanding Offensive Player at Lakewood HS
SS - Brittany Putich - Led Gauchos with 31 runs and 150 at-bats in 2005
3B - Shelby Hensler - Making her first collegiate start at third base
LF - Jessica Hejna - Hit .364 in conference games last season
CF - Kendra Singley - Led UCSB with 42 hits and a .302 batting average
RF - Liz Walters - Started 39 games in the outfield in 2005
DP - Danielle Meyers - Hit four homers and 19 RBI as a freshman
P - Jennifer Davis - Gaucho ace led the squad with 13 wins, 29 appearances, 197 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.09

• Gaucho Reserves - Notes
C - Brenda Lira - Started 22 games behind the plate last year
1B - Dani Baltazar - Won back-to-back Moore League titles at Millikan HS
2B - Lauren Augino - Batted .350 with seven homers and 25 RBI at West Covina HS in 2005
3B - Tisha Duran - Was the 2005 WSC Player of the Year at Ventura College
OF - Nicole Churnock - Hit .239 in 46 at-bats last season
UT - Adrienne Anderson - Hit .486 with 23 RBI as a senior at Monache HS
UT - Jackie Conlin - Holds a record seven title rings at San Pedro HS
P - Ginger Gutierrez -Two-time All-State selection at Ventura College
P - Tami Weston - Led CIF-SS with 307 strikeouts at Ventura HS in 2005

• Hornet Happenings
The Gauchos open the season against Sacramento State in the first game of the Campbell/Cartier Tournament hosted by San Diego State. The Hornets return 14 letterwinners, including 11 upperclassmen and four all-conference selections from their 2005 squad. Sacramento State is led by senior center fielder Lindy Winkler, who was a first team All-Pacific Coast Softball Conference selection after leading the league with a .379 batting average in 2005. Senior hurler Nikki Cinque is the squad's top returning pitcher and posted a 14-9 record and a 1.52 ERA last season. The Gauchos and Hornets have met 31 times, with UCSB holding a 18-13 advantage in the all-time seriers. Santa Barbara won the last meeting 2-0 at the 2004 Cal Poly Mustang Round-Up.

• Minutewomen Musings
In their second game of this weekend's tournament, the Gauchos square off with the University of Massachusetts. UMASS returns 13 letterwinners and seven starters from last year's squad that advanced to the NCAA Regionals after winning its 17th Atlantic-10 Championship. The Minutewomen are led by First Team Easton All-American catcher KJ Kelley, who hit a team-best .382 with 12 doubles, 42 RBI, 33 walks and a .779 slugging percentage in 2005. In the circle, senior Jenna Bussa anchors the pitching staff and recorded a 17-6 record, an ERA of 1.96 and 137 strikeouts last year. Friday's matchup marks the first ever meeting between the two schools.

• Bruin Banter
Next up for the Gauchos will be National Runner-Up UCLA. The Bruins start the season ranked second in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25 preseason poll and the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 preseason poll and return 16 letterwinners, including nine position starters from last year's team that lost to Michigan in the College World Series. UCLA is led by senior second baseman Caitlin Benyi who finished her junior season hitting .333 with 39 runs, 35 RBI, 14 homeruns, and a .643 slugging percentage. Sophomore Anjelica Seldon is the Bruins top-returning pitcher, posting a 1.10 ERA, 29 wins, and 485 strikeouts in 2005. Last year, the Bruins defeated Santa Barbara twice in a season-opening doubleheader January 30 at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos are looking for their first victory against UCLA since 1991.

• Golden Bear Galore
As if the Gauchos did not have their hands full already, the tournament continues Saturday with Cal on the slate. The Golden Bears enter this weekend's tourney with a ranking of No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll and No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA pre-season poll and welcome back eight letterwinners and four starters from a squad that lost to UCLA in last year's Super Regionals. Cal is led by senior catcher/first baseman Haley Woods, who returns after hitting .279 with 13 homeruns and 58 RBI a year ago. Senior pitcher Kristina Thorson was named to the 2006 USA Softball Player of the Year Pre-Season Watch List after going 23-5 with a 1.09 ERA and 225 punchouts her junior season. The Golden Bears lead the overall series with the Gauchos 14-3 and defeated UCSB 7-2 in the 2004 Softball by the Beach Invitational at Campus Diamond.

• Cowgirl Roundup
The Gauchos conclude the Campbell/Cartier Tournament with Oklahoma State Sunday. The Cowgirls return 12 letterwinners including seven starters from last year's team that advanced to their Regional Final. OSU is led by junior Shanel Scott, who led the squad with a .378 batting average, 73 hits and 46 runs in 2005. In the circle, junior pitcher Jessica Hoppock returns after posting a record of 15-13 with a 2.68 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 38 appearances. Sunday's contest marks the sixth meeting between the two programs, with the Cowgirls holding a narrow 2-3 lead over the Gauchos. The two teams split a pair of games in 2004, as UCSB defeated Oklahoma State 4-3 at the Cal Poly Mustang Round-Up, before the Cowgirls avenged that loss by the same count six days later at the San Diego State Aztec Invitational.

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