February 22, 2006

Three Ranked Opponents Await UCSB in this Weekend's Palm Springs Classic

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Feb. 22, 2006

• The Schedule
Games No. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Palm Springs Classic Hosted by Oregon State
at Palm Springs, California

Friday, February 24, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Ohio State Buckeyes @ 5:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners @ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 19 Louisiana State Tigers @ 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Kansas Jayhawks @ 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 26 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 22 Oregon Ducks @ 11:00 a.m.

• The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara travels to the desert this weekend for the Palm Springs Classic with an overall record of 5-2, after hosting the Softball By The Beach Tournament February 17-19. Heavy rainfall throughout the weekend limited the Gauchos to only two games, but they took care of business when they got the chance, defeating San Diego State 3-2 Friday and Rider 2-0 on Saturday. UCSB, along with the five other participating teams, was scheduled to play five times during the three day event, but inclement weather forced the cancellation of most of the tournament for the second year in a row. Mother Nature cooperated long enough for a grand total of five games to be played.

• Palm Springs Classic Showcases Best of the Best
The Palm Springs Classic is hosted annually by Oregon State at Big League Dreams Park in Cathedral City, Calif., just outside Palm Springs. This year the 23-team event features 10 squads that are currently ranked in the Top 25 and games will be played at five different fields. The field showcases some of the most prestigious softball programs in the country, including six of the eight teams that have won the NCAA National Championship. The competition includes 18 2005 NFCA All-Americans, 15 NCAA Regional Tournament squads and three College World Series teams. Three games will be televised nationally Sunday on ESPNU, including LSU vs. Stanford, UCLA vs. Oklahoma and Arizona vs. Texas. More information about the tournament can be found on the softball page at www.osubeavers.com

• Gauchos Hand Aztecs Second Loss of the Year
San Diego State figured to be a formidable opponent entering Friday's contest with a record of 5-1 and their only defeat coming at the hands of No. 2 UCLA. After the visitors scored two runs in the top of third, the Gauchos responded with a run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by freshman second baseman Christine Ramos. SDSU carried its one-run lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, before Kendra Singley tied the game with an RBI single to left field. After starting pitcher Jennifer Davis silenced the Aztecs in the top of the seventh, sophomore catcher Ericka Hansen stepped to the plate with two outs, a runner on third and a chance to be the hero. She came through with a game-winning single, as the Gauchos' scored the games' final three runs to come from behind and win 3-2.

• Weston, Gutierrez Shine in Victory Over Rider
The pitching combination of Tami Weston and Ginger Gutierrez was tremendous in Santa Barbara's 2-0 defeat of Rider University. The two newcomers combined to pitch a four-hit shutout in Santa Barbara's first win by a pitcher other than Jennifer Davis. Weston allowed three hits, recorded one strikeout and walked two in her first collegiate victory. Gutierrez was just as impressive, pitching three innings and retiring nine of the ten batters she faced. The junior transfer from Ventura College allowed one hit and struck out five in only her second appearance in a Gaucho uniform. Kendra Singley drove in both runs on an RBI single in the first inning, followed by a towering homerun to right center in the fifth.

• In Davis We Trust
Jennifer Davis has always been able to get it done on both sides of the ball. Whether she is in the circle or at the plate, the Whittier, Calif. native has been a force to be reckoned with so far in 2006. After getting the nod in four out of the five games last weekend in San Diego, the Gaucho ace took the circle against SDSU and pitched seven complete innings, allowing two runs on six hits. She fanned seven and walked four on the way to her fourth victory of the year. With the win, Davis is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.12 with 38 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched in 2006. She now has a total of 434 strikeouts and 33 wins for her career, which are third and sixth on the Career Top 10 List, respectively and has also moved into the eighth spot on the career innings pitched chart with 391. Davis has gone the distance in all five contests she has started and now ranks seventh all-time with 38 career complete games. Offensively, she is hitting .235 with three runs scored and an RBI. She scored the winning run in the victory over the Aztecs.

• Singled Out
One of the Gauchos' most consistent weapons last year, junior center fielder Kendra Singley has continued to give opposing pitchers fits so far in 2006. She leads the squad hitting .500 and has recorded a team-best 12 hits, six runs batted in and one homerun in the first seven games. After posting back-to-back games in which she went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the win over UMASS and loss to No. 2 UCLA during the Campbell/Cartier Tournament in San Diego, Singley turned in great performances against San Diego State and Rider last weekend. The Irvine, Calif. native went 2-for-3 in the win over the Aztecs, before finishing 2-for-2 with a homer and driving in both of UCSB's runs against the Broncs. She now has 12 career homeruns, which ranks fifth on the all-time career chart.

• Picking Up Where She Left Off
After tearing it up in the second half of last season, leading the team with a .364 batting average, 24 hits and six doubles in Big West play, junior left fielder Jessica Hejna has had a hot start to this season as well. Through seven games she is hitting .381 (8-for-21) with four runs, three triples, a double and six RBI. The Orange, Calif. native leads the team in doubles, triples and runs batted in and ranks second in batting and runs scored She was the catalyst in the 10-1 mercy rule victory over UMASS February 10, turning in a 3-for-3 performance with three runs, a walk and four RBI. She also tripled and drove in a run in the 3-2 extra inning victory over Sacramento State. February 9.

• Hansen-ly Rewarded
Head coach Kristy Schroeder has asked for production from some of her young players this season and sophomore catcher Ericka Hansen has met the challenge head-on. Through seven games, she is hitting .375 with two runs, a double and a pair of RBI. The San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente HS) native is also proving to be a player that can be counted on in big situations after her performance against San Diego State. She came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied, two outs and a runner on third and calmly singled to left field to win the game. Hansen has also been stellar defensively, starting every game behind the plate.

• The Word on Ramos
Freshman second baseman Christine Ramos has been another breath of fresh air for UCSB to start the season. She currently boasts a .304 batting average, which ranks fourth on the squad and is tops among freshmen. The Long Beach, Calif. (Lakewood HS) native has started all seven games in the leadoff spot and leads the team with seven runs scored and is third with four RBI. She went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in the win over San Diego State and led off the game with a triple, before scoring the Gauchos first run against Rider. Her presence in the lineup has definitely made a difference so far.

• On the Wright Track
Another freshman making noise for the Gauchos so far in 2006 is first baseman Tiffany Wright. The Corona, Calif. (Santiago HS) native has filled the void left at first base with the departure of All-Big West slugger Lindsey Herrin, starting all seven games at the three spot. Wright is currently fifth on the team in batting at .250 with a triple, two runs and three RBI. UCSB's clean-up hitter so far this season, her production at the plate has not gone unnoticed. She hit a homerun in her first game as a Gaucho--a shot to left center in the fourth inning in the 3-2 win over Sacramento State February 9. More recently, she tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning against San Diego State.

• A Healthy Hensler is Always a Good Thing
After missing 27 games last season due to injury, junior catcher/third baseman Shelby Hensler is back in the lineup and has played in all seven games in 2006. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native is healthy and has started six times at third base. She has three RBI in 18 at-bats and has two runs scored. Hensler drove in two and scored in the 7-2 win over Oklahoma State February 12.

• 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 has been immeasurable, 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. Schroeder 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 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 Schroeder 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 Division II Truman State, Schroeder has a career record of 257-147-1 (.635), while her mark with the Gauchos is 124-113 (.523).

• Leaders of the Pack
The Gauchos' commitment to becoming an elite program starts at the very top and, to that end, two new additions to the coaching staff have already paid instant dividends this year. Joining Schroeder on the sidelines 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. The individual attention that she will give the Gaucho pitchers will drastically help their development. Mendoza, a current member of Team USA, won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She will work out with the team and show them what it takes to be successful at the highest levels.

• Buckeye Breakdown
Ohio State enters the Palm Springs Classic with an overall record of 5-4 after going 1-4 in last weekend's Stetson Tournament in DeLand, Fla. The Buckeyes are led by senior catcher Stacy Hibma, who is batting a team-high .462 with eight RBI. Junior Megan Schwab, a first-team all-region pick a year ago, owns a .400 average, three homers and 10 RBI. Junior hurler Jamee Juarez (3-3) won her first three games of the season and leads the OSU pitching staff with 28 strikeouts in 32.1 innings of work. Friday's matchup marks the first-eve meeting between UCSB and OSU.

• Sooner Central
In their second game of this weekend's tournament, the Gauchos square off with No. 10 Oklahoma. The Sooners sport a 9-1-1 record after six games last week. They are led by senior center fielder Kristin Vesely, who paces the Sooners' offense batting .633 with three triples, 12 runs and 14 RBI. Vesely was named the Big-12 Co-Player of the Week for games played Feb. 13-19. In the circle, freshman Morgan Hudsonpillar anchors the pitching staff with a 3-0 record, an ERA of 2.53 and 10 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. The Gauchos and Sooners have never met.

• Tamin' the Tigers
Next up for the Gauchos will be No. 19 Louisiana State on Saturday. The Tigers have a perfect 12-0 record after winning their own Easton Tiger Classic last weekend and will host Texas Southern in a doubleheader Wednesday. LSU is led by junior outfielder Leslie Klein who is hitting .559 with 13 runs, 19 hits and 11 RBI in 2006. Junior pitcher Emily Turner has not allowed a run this season and has a 4-0 record and 28 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. She leads a tremendous pitching staff that boasts a team ERA of 0.19. Saturday will be the first meeting between the two programs.

• Scouting the Jayhawks
The Palm Springs Classic continues Saturday with the University of Kansas on the slate. The Jayhawks enter this weekend's competition with a record of 4-5 after winning the Getterman Classic to start the season. KU is led by senior infielder Destiny Frankenstein who is hitting .478 with 11 hits, 11 runs and 12 RBI, all team-highs. Senior pitcher Serena Settlemier is the Jayhawks' top pitcher, with an ERA of 0.50 in 28 innings of work. She has a 2-2 record and 32 strikeouts on the year. UCSB defeated Kansas 4-3 in their only other meeting in the 2003 Softball By The Beach Tournament.

• Down-Low on the Ducks
The Gauchos conclude the Palm Springs Classic with Pac-10 power and 18th-ranked Oregon on Sunday. The Ducks have a record of 6-4 coming off the heels of the UNLV Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Oregon is led by senior shortstop Breeanne Sabol, who is batting a team-high .433 with 12 runs, three homers and eight RBI. Freshman hurler Melissa Rice has shouldered most of the work in the circle, compiling a 4-2 record, a 1.87 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched. Sunday's contest marks the ninth meeting between the two programs, with the Ducks holding a 5-3 lead over the Gauchos in the all-time series. The last time they met, UCSB defeated Oregon 2-0 in the 2003 San Diego State Campbell/Cartier Classic.

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Went 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI against San Diego State
1B - Tiffany Wright - Tied game with sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against Aztecs
2B - Christine Ramos - Team leader with seven runs scored
SS - Brittany Putich - 1-for-24 to start the season
3B - Shelby Hensler - Drove in two against Oklahoma State February 12
LF - Jessica Hejna - Leads squad with three triples and six RBI
CF - Kendra Singley - Had two RBI, including a homerun against Rider
RF - Nicole Churnock - Started five games in right field this season
DP - Liz Walters - Doubled and scored a run against the Minutewomen
P - Jennifer Davis - Gaucho ace has a 4-1 record, with 2.12 ERA and 38 strikeouts

• 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 - Hit .350 with seven homers at West Covina HS in 2005
3B - Tisha Duran - Was the 2005 WSC Player of the Year at Ventura College
OF - Danielle Meyers - Doubled and scored against SDSU
UT - Adrienne Anderson - Hit .486 with 23 RBI as a senior at Monache HS
UT - Jackie Conlin - Has scored three runs as a pinch runner
P - Ginger Gutierrez - Retired nine of the ten Bronc batters she faced
P - Tami Weston - Earned her first career victory against Rider

• Road Warriors?
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--or rainy, as of late--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, who posted a 12-14 record on the road last season, are 3-2 away from home so far in 2006. Santa Barbara is a perfect 2-0 at home.

• Battle-Tested
The Gauchos are in the midst of yet another challenging non-conference slate to kick things off 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 Gauchos have been tested right out of the gates this season with four of their first five games coming against 2005 tournament teams and things will be just as tough this weekend when they square off with No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 18 LSU and No. 22 Oregon--all of which advanced to the postseason last year. The squads' only setbacks thus far are losses to No. 2 UCLA and then-seventh-ranked Cal, resembling the start of 2005 when the Gauchos' first six losses came at the hands of a ranked foe.

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