UCSB's Season-Long Road Trip Continues with Five games at Cal State Fullerton's Worth Invitational

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March 1, 2006

• The Schedule
Games No. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
The Worth Invitational Hosted by Cal State Fullerton
at Fulleton, California

Friday, March 3, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats @ 1:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 9 Oregon State Beavers @ 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 4, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers @ 9:00 a.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 5 Stanford Cardinal @ 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Purdue Boilermakers @ 11:00 a.m.

• The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters this weekend's Worth Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. with an overall record of 7-5 after posting a 2-3 mark at the Palm Springs Classic February 24-26. The Gauchos opened the 23-team event with a bang, drubbing Ohio State 10-1 in five innings before falling to No. 10 Oklahoma 6-2 in game two Friday night. On Saturday, UCSB lost 6-1 to Louisiana State and then bounced back to edge Kansas 2-1 in the night cap. Santa Barbara ended the tournament on a sour note Sunday, dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 22 Oregon after senior pitcher Amy Harris held the Gauchos hitless in the contest. UCSB has a 5-5 record away from home so far this season.

• The Worth Invitational Skinny
One week after participating in the Palm Springs Classic--a tournament that featured 10 squads that are currently ranked in the Top 25 and six of the eight teams that have won the NCAA National Championship--UCSB will square off with some of the finest programs in the nation yet again this weekend. The field at this year's Worth Invitational includes such nationally-prominent programs as Stanford, Oregon State and Northwestern, all of which the Gauchos are slated to face, as well as Georgia, and National Runner-Up Tennessee. A total of 11 teams will compete in the three-day round-robin event. More information about the tournament can be found on the softball page at www.fullertontitans.com

• Gauchos Get Offensive in 10-1 Victory over Ohio State
UCSB was looking for a hot start entering the Palm Springs Classic, a tournament that pitted them against three ranked opponents. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the Gauchos got what they wanted and erupting for a season-high 10 runs in the game. After OSU took a 1-0 lead on a solo homerun by Courtney Prunner into the bottom of the third, back-to-back RBI doubles by Kendra Singley and Tiffany Wright highlighted a five hit, six run inning that gave Santa Barbara a commanding 6-1 lead. Ericka Hansen capped a four run fourth inning with a bases loaded triple and the Gauchos pulled away 10-1 in mercy rule fashion. Ginger Gutierrez was dominant in the circle once again, pitching five complete innings en route to her first career victory. She limited Ohio State to one run on six hits while striking out three and walking none in the win.

• JD Works Her Magic Against Kansas
After consecutive losses to No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 19 LSU, Santa Barbara got back on track against the University of Kansas Saturday night. Junior ace Jennifer Davis shut down the Jayhawk offense, holding them to one run on just three hits in seven complete innings of work. She struck out a season-high 12 batters and walked three in her best performance of 2006. Junior center fielder Kendra Singley put the Gauchos on top 1-0 in the top of the third inning with a single to center field that scored Christine Ramos. After Val Chapple's bases loaded single in the bottom of the fifth gave KU its only run of the contest, UCSB responded in the top of the sixth inning to reclaim the lead. With one out, junior shortstop Brittany Putich reached on an infield single to third base and advanced to third on Shelby Hensler's single to center field. Ramos then singled and Putich came home for what became the winning run in the 2-1 victory.

• In Davis We Trust
While few things in life are certain, we do know one thing for sure about UCSB softball: Jennifer Davis is going to get the ball in the big games. The Whittier, Calif. native appeared in four of the Gauchos' five games last weekend, starting against Oklahoma, Kansas and Oregon and coming on in relief against LSU. She pitched a total of 16.2 innings, allowed ten runs and struck out 21, recording a record of 1-2 over the weekend. UCSB's ace picked up the win against Kansas, allowing one run on three hits in seven complete innings of work. She struck out a season-high 12 batters in her best showing this season. Davis is now 5-3 with an ERA of 2.82 with 59 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched in 2006. She has a total of 455 strikeouts and 34 wins for her career, which are third and fourth on the Career Top 10 List, respectively and has also moved into the eighth spot on the career innings pitched chart with 407.2. Davis has gone the distance in seven of the eight contests she has started and now ranks seventh all-time with 40 career complete games.

• Singled Out
Junior center fielder Kendra Singley has made a name for herself as one of the Gauchos' most consistent players and continues to produce big numbers offensively. Through 12 games, she leads the squad hitting .410 and has recorded a team-best 16 hits and eight runs batted in, including one round-tripper. After going 4-for-5 with a homer and two RBI in two games in UCSB's Softball By The Beach Tournament two weeks ago, the Irvine, Calif. native turned in solid performances in both Gaucho wins in Palm Springs. She finished 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI in the 10-1 victory over Ohio State and drove in Santa Barbara's first run of the game in the 2-1 win over Kansas. Singley now has 12 career homeruns, which ranks fifth on the all-time career chart, while her 65 RBI rank sixth.

• Hej-Day
Junior left fielder Jessica Hejna became one of the squads' top offensive threats in the second half last year and has had a good start to 2006, as well. Through 12 games she is hitting .314 (11-for-35) with four runs, three triples, a double and six RBI. The Orange, Calif. native leads the team in three-baggers, is third in and runs batted in and ranks fourth in both batting average and runs scored. Hejna 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 a career-high four RBI. She also tripled and drove in a run in the 3-2 extra inning victory over Sacramento State. February 9.

• Wright On Time
Freshman Tiffany Wright has filled the void left at first base with the departure of All-Big West slugger Lindsey Herrin nicely, starting all seven games at the three spot. The Corona, Calif. (Santiago HS) native was without a doubt, the Gauchos' most impressive player over the weekend, hitting .583 (7-for-12) in the five games. She is now second on the squad after her average climbed up from .250 to .343, while also ranking second with seven RBI. In addition, Wright is the team-leader with three doubles. She went 3-for-3 with a run and two RBI against No. 10 Oklahoma and 2-for-3 with an RBI in the game with No. 19 LSU and drove in the Gauchos' only runs in both contests. Wright immediately made her presence felt at UCSB, hitting a homerun in her first game as a Gaucho February 9.

• Hansen-ly Rewarded
Sophomore catcher Ericka Hansen has been another newcomer that has solidified her place in the starting lineup with consistent production. She is third on the team hitting .333 with three runs, two doubles and five runs batted in. The San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente HS) native had a career-high three RBI in the tournament opener against Ohio State after hitting a bases loaded triple in the fourth inning. She has also proved to be a player that can be counted on in big situations after her performance against San Diego State February 24, when she hit the game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

• The Need For Speed
One thing that head coach Kristy Schroeder's Gauchos uncharacteristically lacked in 2005 was a true leadoff hitter. She has found one in freshman second baseman Christine Ramos. Ramos currently boasts a .256 batting average, which ranks fifth on the squad and leads the way with 12 runs scored and two stolen bases. The Long Beach, Calif. (Lakewood HS) native scored a run in four out of the five games this weekend, including the Gauchos' only run of the game in the first inning against No. 19 LSU. She went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI in the win over Kansas.

• Back In Action
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 12 games in 2006. The Mission Viejo, Calif. native is healthy and has started ten times at third base. She hit a two-run single and scored in the third inning against Ohio State last weekend and drove in two and scored in the 7-2 win over Oklahoma State February 12.

• She's Got Game
Ginger Gutierrez has emerged as very dependable pitcher in the second spot of UCSB's rotation. One week after looking very impressive against Rider University, pitching three innings and retiring nine of the ten batters she faced, the junior transfer from Ventura College got the nod against Ohio State and you would have never known it was her first career start. She held the Buckeyes to one run--a solo homer--on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks, earning the complete game victory. She then came on in relief in the third inning against No. 10 Oklahoma and quieted the Sooners completely, allowing just two hits in 4.2 innings of work. In her second-ever start, she took the circle against No. 19 LSU and gave up five runs on eight hits with three punch outs, but a lack of run support forced her to take the loss. Gutierrez is 1-1 on the year with an ERA of 3.16 and 16 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched.

• The Kristy Schroeder File
Kristy Schroeder is in 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 what once was 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--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 259-150-1 (.632), while her mark with the Gauchos is 126-116 (.521).

• A Word on the Wildcats
No. 16 Northwestern enters the Worth Invitational with an overall record of 8-4 after going 1-2 in last weekend's NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. The Wildcats are led by senior third baseman Kristen Amegin, who is batting a team-high .382 with four homers and 12 RBI. Junior hurler Eileen Canney (2-2) leads Northwestern's pitching staff with a 1.81 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Friday's matchup marks the seventh meeting between UCSB and NU, with the Wildcats holding a 4-2 advantage in the series. Northwestern won the last meeting 8-1 in in Santa Barbara's first-ever postseason game in 2004. The Gauchos' last win over the Wildcats was in 1983.

• Beaver Banter
In their second game of this weekend's tournament, the Gauchos square off with red-hot Oregon State. The ninth-ranked Beavers sport a 13-2 record and have won 13 straight, including all five of their games in the Palm Springs Classic last weekend. Senior outfielder Adrienne Alo paces the OSU offense batting .383 with 13 runs, five homers and 17 RBI. In the circle, junior Brianne McGowan anchors the pitching staff with a 8-1 record, an ERA of 2.05 and 55 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched. The overall series between the two programs is knotted at 7-7 after they split two games in last year's Early Bird Tournament in Santa Barbara.

• Ramblers Rhetoric
Next up for the Gauchos will be Loyola University Chicago on Saturday. The Ramblers have a 1-3 record after playing in the Middle Tennessee Breast Cancer Strikeout Classic to start their season. Loyola is led by sophomore Katerina Krause who drove in four runs in their win over Middle Tennessee. Freshman pitcher Laura DeLeon, who tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief and earned her first victory at Loyola in the game, is a force in the circle. Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

• Cardinal Confidential
The Worth Invitational continues Saturday with No. 5 Stanford on the slate. The Cardinal enter this weekend's competition with a record of 14-3 after going 4-2 in the Palm Springs Classic. Stanford is led by freshman infielder Maddy Coon, who is hitting .364 with five homeruns and 17 RBI, while freshman Missy Pena is the squad's top pitcher, with an ERA of 1.23 in 57 innings of work. She has an 8-2 record and 69 strikeouts on the year. Stanford took two of three from UCSB in 2004 and leads the overall series 7-6.

• Boilermaker Breakdown
The Gauchos conclude the Worth Invitational with Purdue on Sunday. The Boilermakers have a record of 8-6 coming off the Bradley Invitational in Pekin, Ill. last weekend where they went 3-1. Purdue is led by sophomore outfielder Tiffany Krcelich, who is batting a team-high .487 with nine runs and eight RBI. Junior hurler Brooke Baker has shouldered most of the work in the circle, compiling a 5-5 record, a 1.70 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 61.2 innings pitched. The Boilermakers won the lone previous meeting with the Gauchos, taking a 3-1 decision at the UCSB Invitational in 2000.

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Hit a bases loaded triple and scored in the 10-1 win over Ohio State
1B - Tiffany Wright - Leads the Gauchos with two homers and is second in batting at .343
2B - Christine Ramos - Team leader with 12 runs scored
SS - Brittany Putich - Scored the winning run in 2-1 win over Kansas
3B - Shelby Hensler - Drove in two against Ohio State on a bases loaded single
LF - Jessica Hejna - Leads squad with three triples and five sacrifices
CF - Kendra Singley - Hitting a team-best .410 with eight RBI this season
RF - Nicole Churnock - Started eight games in right field in 2006
DP - Danielle Meyers - Doubled and scored against SDSU February 17
P - Jennifer Davis - Gaucho ace has a 5-3 record, with 2.82 ERA and 59 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 - Liz Walters - Doubled and scored a run against UMASS February 10
UT - Adrienne Anderson - Notched her first-career at-bat against Rider
UT - Jackie Conlin - Has scored three runs as a pinch runner
P - Ginger Gutierrez - Earned her first win as a Gaucho after limiting the Buckeyes to one run
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 50 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 a total of 15 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 5-5 away from home so far in 2006. Santa Barbara is a perfect 2-0 at home.

• Getting Over the Top (25)
UCSB is in the midst of yet another challenging non-conference slate in 2006. The Gauchos' schedule includes 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. Santa Barbara has been tested all season long and has faced some of the nation's top programs from the get go, with four of their first five games coming against 2005 tournament teams. Last weekend they squared off with then-ranked No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 18 LSU and No. 22 Oregon and lost all three, despite hanging tough in each contest. In addition to their latest setbacks, UCSB has also fallen to UCLA and Cal this season. While the squad has a perfect 7-0 record against unranked teams, all five of their losses have come at the hands of foes that are ranked in the Top 25. This is a trend that is eerily similar to the start of 2005 when the Gauchos' first six losses came against ranked opponents. They will have their chance to turn things around in Fullerton, where meetings with No. 5 Stanford, No. 9 Oregon State and No. 16 Northwestern await them.