February 20, 2008

Gauchos Host Home-Opening Softball by the Beach Tournament

Feb. 20, 2008

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• The Schedule
Games No. 10, 11, 12, 13
Softball by the Beach Tournament
at UC Santa Barbara's Campus Diamond (500)

Friday, Feb. 22, 2008
UCSB vs. Portland State, 11:30 am
St. John's vs. Portland State, 2 pm

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008
UCSB vs. St. John's, 9 am
UCSB vs. Portland State, 11:30 am
St. John's vs. Portland State, 2 pm

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008
Portland State vs. St. John's, 8:30 am
UCSB vs. St. John's, 11 am

• Welcome Home Gauchos
After spending the first two weeks of the 2008 season on the road, the UC Santa Barbara softball team will return to its very own Campus Diamond this week to host the annual Softball by the Beach Tournament. The three-day event, running Friday through Sunday, will feature seven total games (weather permitting) between UCSB and visiting St. John's and Portland State.

• Last Time On "Gaucho Softball"
UCSB spent the second week of the 2008 season in San Diego at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, hosted by San Diego State. After having their Valentine's Day match-up with the host Aztecs postponed due to rainy conditions, the Gauchos opened the tournament on Friday with a narrow, 4-3 loss to former Big West foe Utah State. UCSB bounced back on Saturday morning as they posted a 5-0 win over Indiana, but the Gauchos were on the losing end of an 8-0 shutout in their afternoon match-up with Fresno State. On Sunday, the Gauchos finished tourney action with another split, picking up a 3-2 win over Tulsa before falling 4-1 to San Diego State. UCSB now holds a 3-6 overall record heading into this weekend's home tournament.

• Senior Standout
2007 All-Big West First Team selection Tisha Duran has been impressive so far this season. The third basemen has posted a team-leading .414 batting average across the first nine games and leads the team and the Big West with her 10 RBI. Duran has posted the Gauchos' only pair of home runs this season and is first on the team and second in the Big West with her 19 total bases. This past weekend, Duran batted .438 over five games and had a total of five RBI, including a pair against Utah State and two against Indiana. Versus the Hoosiers, the Ventura, Calif. native went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double. She ended the tournament going 3-for-3 against San Diego State in a 4-1 loss. Despite her consistent presence on the base paths over the weekend, Duran was never brought home for a run.

• Zoning In On Ziegler
First basemen Jessica Ziegler continued to get her sophomore season off on the right foot last weekend as she batted .313 and scored a team-leading four runs. The San Diego native also went 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts and leads the team and conference with seven stolen bags this season. Overall, Ziegler is third on the team with her .333 batting average and has scored a team-best seven runs. She went 1-for-2 with a run, two walks, and two stolen bases in the win over Indiana and was 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base in the win over Tulsa.

• New To The Line-Up
Sophomore catcher Kelsey Anderson joined the Gauchos on the field for the first time this season, playing in all five of the Gauchos' contests and starting four behind the plate. Anderson went 4-for-11 at the plate, with one hit in each of her four starts. Against Indiana, the Santa Maria, Calif. native went 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base. She then posted her first RBI of the season in the win over Tulsa. She rounded out tournament action going 1-for-2 with the lone Gaucho run of the game. With her season batting average of .364, Anderson ranks second amongst the Gauchos.

• Freshman Firepower
Another underclassman that got her first set of starting nods this past weekend was freshman Mary Episcopo, who split time in the right field and also filled in as the designated hitter in a pair of games. The San Diego native went 2-for-3 with a stolen base in her first collegiate appearance in the narrow loss to Utah State on Friday. She followed that up, going 2-for-3 with a triple, a run, and a stolen base against Tulsa on Sunday. Episcopo is now tied for third on the team, with Ziegler, with her .333 batting average.

• The Ramos Rundown
Second basemen and 2007 All-Big West First Team pick, Christine Ramos opened the Campbell/Cartier Classic strong, going 1-for-3 with a run against Utah State, which she followed up with an impressive 2-for-3 showing against Indiana, posting two runs, a double, a walk, and two stolen bases in the 5-0 shutout. Unfortunately for the junior, her bat was silenced during the next three games. Ramos is currently batting .233 on the season, but is tied for second on the team with Tiffany Wright with five runs and is second on the team with four stolen bases.

• In The Circle
After a tough opening weekend in Los Angeles, the Gaucho pitching staff had a much stronger showing last weekend, posting a collective 2.88 ERA versus the previous week's 7.71. Sophomore Lindsey Correa (2-2) went 1-1 over the weekend, posting a seven-inning shutout over Indiana, allowing just two hits, while walking three, and striking out a season-high eight batters. The next day, the right-hander struggled, giving up three runs on two hits in the first inning against San Diego State. Correa currently owns a team-best 3.98 ERA and .194 opponent batting average, the second lowest in the Big West. She also leads the staff with 18 strikeouts this season. Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto (0-4) faced a couple of tough losses over the weekend to Utah State and Fresno State. She allowed just four runs - three earned - on eight hits against Utah State before allowing seven earned runs on nine hits in the 8-0 loss to Fresno State. Matsumoto did throw 6.2 strong innings against San Diego State, allowing just three hits and one unearned run, while striking out a season-best three batters. Her weekend ERA was 3.56, but she currently holds a 5.55 season ERA. Last, but certainly not least, is junior pitcher Tami Weston (1-0) who picked-up her first win of the season after pitching a complete game against Tulsa. In seven innings, Weston allowed just one earned run on four hits while walking five and striking out a season-best seven batters. For the season, Weston now holds a 5.25 ERA.

• Getting Defensive
Nine games into the season, UCSB leads all Big West schools with its .975 fielding percentage. After committing just one error in their opening weekend, the Gauchos committed six last week for a total of seven this season compared to 13 by their opposition. In fact, UCSB has committed just one error more than conference-leader Cal State Fullerton. Eight Gauchos currently hold a 1.00 fielding percentage.

• Offensive Behavior
The Gaucho offense currently ranks third in the Big West with its .249 batting average. UCSB is averaging 6.67 hits per game, slightly better than last season's 6.45. UCSB leads the conference in triples (4), stolen bases (17), steal attempts (18), and hit by pitches (18). Don't let the 1-3 record fool you, the Gaucho offense was strong this past weekend. Four Gauchos are currently hitting .300, including Duran, who is batting a team-high .414.

• Pillaging Portland State
Portland State enters this week with an overall record of 4-6 after going 2-3 last weekend at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas. The Vikings posted wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Seton Hall while falling to Kansas, UCLA, and Missouri. Brandi Scoggins is leading the Vikings, batting .364 on the season with eight RBI. Mandy Hill is batting .313 and is 3-3 in the circle with a 3.50 ERA in eight appearances. The series record between the two teams is currently deadlocked at 2-2 with the Gauchos last win and loss against the Vikings coming during the 2004 season.

• A Storm's A Brewing
In addition to Portland State, St. John's will also be participating in this weekend's tournament. The Red Storm, hailing from Queen's, N.Y., have posted a 0-4 record so far this season, dropping four straight at the LSU Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge last weekend. St. John's fell to Tennessee Chattanooga (11-5), LSU (14-0), Ball State (11-2), and Nichols State (8-6). Brandy Reyes led the team, batting .333 on the weekend with two runs, a double, and an RBI. Chelsea Plimpton (0-1) leads the pitching staff with her 2.57 ERA. This weekend's pair of match-ups will be the first-ever between the two programs.

• How To Catch The Action
For those of you Gaucho fans that have been following 2008 action on Gametracker from the comfort of your home, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news: UCSB's Campus Diamond lacks an internet connection (and a phone line for that matter), so Gametracker is a no-go this weekend. The good news: Campus Diamond does seat around 500 people and let's be honest, watching a little softball in Santa Barbara is a pretty good way to spend a weekend. Tickets for the tournament will be sold at the entrance of the stadium beginning one hour prior to first pitch each day. Tickets are $10 for a one day pass and $20 for an all-tournament pass. UCSB students and children under 10 years are free.

• Under New Management
Former UCSB assistant, Brie Galicinao took the helm of the Gaucho softball program last June. Galicinao is a 2002 graduate of Princeton where she was a four-year starting pitcher for the Tigers and was named the 2001 and 2002 Ivy League Player of the Year. The Stockton, Calif. native served as Kristy Schroeder's assistant for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, helping guide the Gauchos to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Under her tutelage, Jennifer Davis became the Big West and Gaucho career strikeout record holder and the 2007 UCSB pitching staff led the conference for ERA. Also joining Galicinao on the coaching staff are first-year assistants Caitlin Benyi, a three-time All-American at UCLA, and UCSB alum Shelby Hensler.

• Who Doesn't Love An Underdog?
In the 2008 Big West Coaches Preseason Poll, the Gauchos were picked seventh out of eight teams with a total of 20 votes. Cal Poly, the 2007 conference champion, beat out Cal State Fullerton by just one point for the top spot, though Fullerton garnered three first-place votes versus Cal Poly's two. UCSB, which finished sixth last season, has not posted a winning Big West record since 2004 when it went 14-7 in conference and tied for second. That second-place finish is the best all-time Big West finish in program history. Currently, Fullerton holds the best non-conference record at 4-3-1

• No Schedule Padding Here
Once again, in an effort to prepare themselves for the always competitive Big West Conference schedule and to qualify for their fourth postseason appearance if five years, the Gauchos will play yet another difficult non-conference schedule in 2008. UCSB will play five opponents currently ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll and 11 teams that participated in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, including four Super Regional qualifiers and one team the advanced to the College World Series. And that is all before conference play begins.

• Coming Soon
UCSB will once again hit the road next weekend when they head to Columbus, Ga. for the lone out-of-state tournament of the regular season. The Gauchos will be participating in the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association Lead-off Classic next Friday through Sunday. UCSB will face No. 12 Michigan, Syracuse, N.C. State, No. 15 Mississippi State, and No. 17 DePaul during the three-day event.

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