UCSB Returns Home This Week, Will Host Radford University in Doubleheader Thursday

UCSB Returns Home This Week, Will Host Radford University in Doubleheader Thursday

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March 14, 2006

• The Schedule
Games No. 22, 23
Thursday, March 16, 2006
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (12-9) vs. Radford University Highlanders (16-8)
at UCSB's Campus Diamond
Game 1 - 12:00 p.m.
Game 2 - 2:00 p.m.

• The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara returns home this week with a 12-9 overall record after going 3-2 in last weekend's Hawaiian Airlines Spring Fling Tournament in Honolulu. The Gauchos' had a rough start to the six team event, getting shutout by the University of Detroit Mercy 2-0 in the tournament opener before losing a heartbreaker 2-1 to Penn State after the Nittany Lions scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning. After rain postponed all of Thursday's scheduled games until Friday, UCSB bounced back and swept both contests, blanking UNLV and host University of Hawaii by identical 2-0 scores behind stellar pitching from Jennifer Davis and Ginger Gutierrez. Santa Barbara followed with a victory Saturday, outlasting Longwood 2-1 after Christine Ramos drove in the winning run in the eighth inning. UCSB has a 10-9 record away from home so far this season.

• Home At Last
UCSB finally returns home this week after completing a season-long 14 game road trip, which was the longest of the Kristy Schroeder era. In three consecutive weekends, the Gauchos played in the Palm Springs Classic hosted by Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton's Worth Invitational and last weekend's Hawaiian Airlines Spring Fling Tournament. Santa Barbara went a respectable 7-7 over that span, squaring off with many of the nation's most prestigious programs. They met a total of five opponents ranked in the Top 25 on their trip, including then-ranked No. 5 Stanford, the ninth-ranked Beavers and No. 10 Oklahoma. Only playing twice at home so far this season, the Gauchos are thrilled to play a game within the friendly confines of Campus Diamond, where they defeated San Diego State 3-2 and Rider 2-0 in the rain-shortened Softball By The Beach Tournament February 17-19. UCSB went 14-8 at home last season.

• Good Pitching is Tough to Beat
The Gauchos have been outstanding in the circle lately thanks to the talented arms of junior starting pitchers Jennifer Davis and Ginger Gutierrez. In the Gauchos' three wins in Hawaii, the duo combined to allow a total of one run on just thirteen hits. Davis went 2-1, defeating UNLV and Longwood after falling to Penn State in her first appearance of the tourney. She held the Rebels scoreless on just three hits, while striking out nine in the 2-0 Gaucho win. In the 2-1 extra inning victory over the Lancers, Davis allowed one run on five hits with a season-high 13 strikeouts. Gutierrez posted a 1-1 record last week, losing the tournament opener 2-0 to Detroit Mercy before blanking Hawaii 2-0 Friday. She held the Rainbows to just five hits and struck out three in her second career shutout win. The pair also pitched well is the Gauchos' two losses, allowing just two runs in each contest.

• Low Scoring Affairs
The number two was very popular in Santa Barbara's contests during the Hawaii Spring Fling Tournament. In all five games, the winning team scored exactly two runs. The Gauchos lost to Detroit Mercy 2-0 and Penn State 2-1, but turned things around and defeated both UNLV and Hawaii 2-0 and Longwood 2-1. While UCSB's offense only scored a total of seven runs--for an average of just 1.4 runs per game--in Honolulu, pitching was the difference in their three wins. Since exploding for 10 runs in 10-1 win against Ohio State February 24, the Gauchos have scored more than five only once, a 6-0 shutout of Loyola-Chicago March 4. On the season, Santa Barbara is averaging just under three runs a game at 2.95, while holding their opponents to 2.38 runs per contest.

• In Davis We Trust
Jennifer Davis had another stellar week in the circle and was dominant in her last two outings. The Whittier, Calif. native appeared in three of the Gauchos' five games last weekend, starting against Penn State, UNLV and Longwood. She pitched a total of 21.2 innings, allowed just three runs and struck out 25, recording a record of 2-1. One week after earning Big West Pitcher of the Week honors following a three-hit shutout of No. 5 Stanford March 4, UCSB's ace picked up wins against the Rebels and Lancers, shutting out UNLV on three hits and allowing one run on five hits against Longwood. She also fanned a season-high 13 batters in win over the Lancers. Davis is now 8-6 with an ERA of 2.20 with 104 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched in 2006. She has a total of 500 strikeouts and 37 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 450.2. Davis has gone the distance in 13 of the 14 contests she has started and now ranks seventh all-time with 46 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 has produced big numbers offensively all season. Through 21 games, she is second on the squad hitting .309 and has recorded a team-best 21 hits and 10 runs batted in, including one round-tripper. The Irvine, Calif. native continued her tear two weeks ago in Fullerton March 3-5, finishing 2-for-3 against the ninth-ranked Beavers, driving in a run and scoring against the Ramblers and bringing home Santa Barbara's first run of the game in the 2-0 win over the fifth-ranked Cardinal. She drove in the winning run this week in the third inning of UCSB's 2-0 victory over UNLV. Singley has 12 career homeruns, which ranks fifth on the all-time career chart, while her 67 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 bolstered the Gauchos lineup throughout 2006, as well. She is hitting .226 with six runs, three triples, a double and six RBI. The Orange, Calif. native leads the team in three-baggers, is third in runs batted in, fourth in runs scored and ranks fifth in batting average. She also leads the squad with eight sacrifices. 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 went 2-for-4 and scored in the Gauchos' 6-0 win over Loyola-Chicago march 4 and scored the Gauchos' first run against Longwood.

• Ramos on the Rise
Freshman second baseman and leadoff hitter Christine Ramos has become the presence at the top of the order that the Gauchos lacked in 2005. She boasts a team-high .313 batting average and also leads the way with 14 runs and four stolen bases. One week after recording a hit in three out of four games at CSF's Worth Invitational, including a 2-for-3 effort in which she scored the winning run against No. 5 Stanford, Ramos was UCSB's hottest hitter in Hawaii. The Long Beach, Calif. native hit .500 (7-for-14), with a run and two RBI and was named the Spring Fling All-Tournament Team's second baseman for her performance. She scored the Gauchos' second run against UNLV and hit the game-winner in the top of the eighth inning in the victory over Longwood.

• Playing the Wright Way
Freshman Tiffany Wright has been a mainstay both at first base and at the plate for Santa Barbara, starting all 21 games this season. The Corona, Calif. native leads the squad with two homers, ranks second with nine RBI and third batting .295. After hitting a very impressive .583 (7-for-12) during the Palm Springs Classic February 24-26, she followed up with another good showing in the Worth Invitational two weeks ago. Wright went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI against Loyola Chicago and scored one of the two runs in the win over Stanford. She drove in the Gauchos' first run of the game in the 2-1 win over Longwood. Since hitting a homerun in her first game as a Gaucho February 9, Wright's bat has been a force in the Gaucho lineup all season.

• Hansen-ly Rewarded
Sophomore catcher Ericka Hansen has also solidified her place in the starting lineup with consistent production. She is fifth on the team hitting .227 with four runs scored and five runs batted in, while her .477 on base percentage leads the squad. The San Clemente, Calif. native had a career-high three RBI in the Palm Springs Classic opener against Ohio State February 25 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.

• True to Form
After struggling at the plate in the early part of the season, junior shortstop Brittany Putich has finally started to play like we know she can. She got on base after drawing two walks in the game with UDM and went 1-for-1 with two walks and scored the winning run against Hawaii. Putich finished 1-for-2 with a run and two RBI in the Gauchos' 6-0 win over Loyola-Chicago March 4 and drove in UCSB's second run in the 2-0 win over No. 5 Stanford the same day. She is second on the squad with eight runs scored along with two doubles and four RBI.

• Armed and Dangerous
Ginger Gutierrez has emerged as very dependable pitcher in the second spot of UCSB's rotation and continues to give opposing hitters difficulties. A week after looking extremely impressive in her third career start against Loyola-Chicago in which she hushed the Rambler offense, allowing a total of one hit and three base runners in the Gauchos' 6-0 win, the junior transfer from Ventura College got the nod in two games in Honolulu. Gutierrez allowed two runs on six hits against Detroit Mercy, but was saddled with the loss after the Gauchos' offense was held scoreless. She followed that with five-hit shutout performance in Santa Barbara's 2-0 win over Hawaii. Then Ventura, Calif. native walked two and struck out three in her second shutout in three games. Gutierrez is 3-2 on the year, leads the squad with an ERA of 2.05 and has also amassed 24 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched.

• Chippin' In
Freshman Jackie Conlin has been given the opportunity to show what she can do lately, appearing in all five of the Gauchos' games at the Spring Fling Tournament and starting four. After entering the game against Detroit Mercy as a pinch runner, the San Pedro, Calif. native started the next four games in right field. Conlin got her second career hit against Penn State, an infield single in the top of the fifth inning, and then came around to score the Gauchos' only run of the game. She also went 1-for-3 in her first career start against Loyola-Chicago March 4.

• Long Ball Liz
Junior right fielder and designated player Liz Walters got her first start since February 18 two weeks ago and made a strong case for a more permanent spot in the lineup. In three starts against Loyola-Chicago, Stanford and Purdue, she hit .250 with five RBI and came up big twice. Her three-run homer in the sixth inning against LUC gave the Gauchos a six run lead and put the game out of reach, while her two run double, also in the sixth, tied the game with Purdue at three. The Orange, Calif. native is hitting .211 in eight games this season.

• 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 264-154-1 (.630), while her mark with the Gauchos is 131-120 (.522).

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - One of only three Gauchos to record a hit against Detroit Mercy
1B - Tiffany Wright - Leads UCSB with two homers and is third in batting at .295
2B - Christine Ramos - Team leader hitting .313 with 14 runs scored
SS - Brittany Putich - Went 1-for-1 with two walks and scored the winning run against Hawaii
3B - Shelby Hensler - Scored the game-winner in the top of the eighth inning vs. Longwood
LF - Jessica Hejna - Leads squad with three triples and eight sacrifices
CF - Kendra Singley - Hitting .309 with a team-high 10 RBI this season
RF - Jackie Conlin - Went 1-for-3 and scored the Gauchos' only run against Penn State
DP - Liz Walters - Hit a three run homer against Loyola-Chicago March 4
P - Jennifer Davis - Gaucho ace has an 8-6 record, with a 2.20 ERA and 104 strikeouts

• Gaucho Reserves - Notes
C - Brenda Lira - Started 22 games behind the plate last year
1B - Dani Baltazar - Made her first appearance of 2006 as a pinch hitter against LUC March 4
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 - Nicole Churnock - Started 13 games in right field in 2006
OF - Danielle Meyers - Went 1-for-3 in her first start at third base vs. Purdue March 5
UT - Adrienne Anderson - Notched her first-career at-bat against Rider February 18
P - Ginger Gutierrez - Picked up her third victory after allowing no runs on five hits in 2-0 triumph over the University of Hawaii
P - Tami Weston - Earned her first career win against Rider February 18

• Scouting the Highlanders
Radford University comes to Santa Barbara this week off to its best start in school history, with an overall record of 16-8 in 2006, and will play Loyola Marymount in a doubleheader Tuesday. The Highlanders are led by senior catcher/third baseman Amanda Walling, who is batting a team-high .338 with 13 runs scored, three homers and 14 RBI. Senior first baseman Danielle Tompkins has also been solid at the plate, hitting .292 with 17 runs, three homers and 16 runs batted in, all tops on the squad. Junior hurler Bre Felix was just named the Big South's New Balance Pitcher of the Week for games played Feb. 28-March 12 after compiling a 6-1 record, with 58 strikeouts, three walks and a 1.02 ERA in 41.0 innings pitched over the two-week span. Sophomore Ashley Taylor has shouldered most of the work in the circle and has an ERA of 1.26, a 6-5 record and 73 strikeouts in 78.0 innings pitched. Thursday's doubleheader marks the first-ever meeting between the Gauchos and the Highlanders.