March 26, 2007

Gauchos Head South Tuesday to Take On No. 11 UCLA

March 26, 2007

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• The Schedule
Game No. 28
at Easton Stadium (1,300)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
UC Santa Barbara (19-8) vs. No. 11 UCLA (24-6), 1:00 p.m.

• The Week Ahead
The Gauchos will open their spring break week with a single game against No. 11 ranked UCLA on Tuesday at the Bruins' Easton Stadium at 1:00 p.m. It will be the only game of the week before UCSB returns home to host Big West foe Cal State Fullerton in both team's conference opening series on Saturday and Sunday.

• An Update: Gauchos Split Against Loyola Marymount
After last week's two shutouts over visiting New Mexico State, UCSB seemed like it was going to continue its winning ways when they overcame a one-run deficit against Loyola Marymount with a three-run fifth inning in the first of two games with the Lions. The Gauchos were unable to close the door on LMU, however, as the Lions scored three runs at the top of the seventh to grab a 4-3 comeback victory. The loss marked only the second at home for UCSB this season and snapped a six game win streak at Campus Diamond. The Lions carried their momentum from the win into the first inning of game two as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer. UCSB responded at the bottom of the third as they capitalized on some Lion errors and a double from Brittany Putich to score four runs. The Gauchos were able to keep LMU quiet the rest of the game and added two more runs at the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-2 victory and earn the split on the day.

• For The Record
UCSB currently holds a 19-8 record on the season which is the best start the program has gotten off to since the 2003 season when the Gauchos ended up posting a 34-22 record, the best mark in program history. Santa Barbara is currently ranked second in the Big West for winning percentage (.704) behind Cal Poly, which has gotten off to an impressive 22-9 start. Three of Santa Barbara's losses this season have come at the hands of teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll, UCSB is now 2-3 in games against ranked opponents. The Gauchos are currently 2-2 on opposing diamonds after defeating San Diego State and then-ranked No. 2 Arizona State on the road before falling to then-ranked No. 12 Stanford twice.

• The 700 Club
Despite picking up the loss to Loyola Marymount in Sunday's first game, senior pitcher Jennifer Davis had another solid performance in the circle for the Gauchos. The hurler pitched a complete game allowing only three earned runs on five hits while walking just one and striking out 10 of the 28 batters she faced. With Sunday's 10 fanned batters, Davis surpassed 700 career strikeouts making her the first UCSB player to ever do so and one of only six Big West players to reach that mark. Ninety-one strikeouts stand between Davis and the conference record of 798 career strikeouts, which was set by Cal Poly's Desarie Knipfer in 1998. The Whittier, Calif. native has posted a 3-6 record on the season, with each of her losses being by only one run or to a ranked team. She has collected three saves this season and leads the conference with her 1.17 ERA and .149 opponent's batting average. Davis has posted double-digit strikeouts three times this season including a season-high 12 on two occasions including her dozen versus New Mexico State two weeks ago for which she earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors (her seventh such career honor) and Santa Barbara News Press Female Athlete of the Week. At the plate, Davis is hitting .241 on the season good for sixth on the team and was 1-for-3 with three walks in the doubleheader against LMU.

• The Ramos Rundown
Sophomore second basemen Christine Ramos led the Gauchos at the plate for the fourth consecutive weekend, hitting a team-high .600 going 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI on Sunday. The Long Beach, Calif. native is amidst a six-game hit streak, her second longest this season, and has had hits in 20 of the Gauchos' 27 games this season, including 14 multiple hit games. The leadoff hitter leads the Gauchos hitting .409 on the season and also has collected 20 runs with a .458 on-base percentage. A 2006 All-Big West Conference Second Team honoree, Ramos ranks in the conference top-10 for batting average, OB%, runs scored, hits (36), stolen bases (8) and steal attempts (9).

• Matsumoto Matters
Pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto kept up her winning ways on Sunday as she threw her way to a 6-2 win in the latter half of the Gauchos' doubleheader with LMU. The Union City, Calif. native threw a complete seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four. Matsumoto is now 9-1 on the year and has a season ERA of 2.20. Her nine wins are the fourth most in the Big West so far this season and like fellow hurler Davis, three of Matsumoto's victories this season have been by way of shutout. The freshman currently ranks in the conference top-10 for ERA and opponent's batting average (.244).

• Hurler Hype
The UCSB pitching staff continues to lead the conference with their combined ERA of 1.60 and opposing batting average of .183. The Gauchos have also allowed the fewest runs and earned runs in the conference having given up only 56 total runs this season, 42 of which were earned. UCSB has also allowed the fewest doubles (20) and homeruns (10). In addition to Davis and Matsumoto, hurlers Lindsey Correa and Tami Weston have contributed greatly to the Gauchos' depth in the circle. Correa currently has an ERA of 2.22 and has recorded a 5-1 record with three shutout wins and is second on the team with 24 strikeouts. The freshman is second in the Big West behind Davis with an opponent's batting average of .177. Rounding out the Gaucho staff is sophomore Weston who is 2-0 on the season with a 0.34 ERA in her four appearances. The Ventura, Calif. native has struck out 19 batters and has an opponent's batting average of .138.

• The Dish On Tish
Junior third basemen Tisha Duran has been a consistent force at the plate for the Gauchos this season and is currently second on the team hitting .325 with a team-leading eight doubles and 16 RBI. The Ventura, Calif. native went 2-for-4 with a double, a run, a stolen base and an RBI in the loss to the Lions. She also tallied a walk and a run in the second game on Sunday. Duran has had hits in 17 of the Gauchos' 27 games this season and has posted six multi-hit games. The junior is also second on the team with 18 runs and has scored one apiece in the last three games.

• Honing In On Hejna
Senior Jessica Hejna went 2-for-6 with a run scored and a sacrifice hit during Sunday's doubleheader. The Orange, Calif. native is currently third on the team hitting .301 on the season with a .397 slugging percentage and a .386 on-base percentage. Hejna also leads the team with 13 sacrifice hits on the year, which ranks second in the Big West. The 5'2" first basemen has also been a force defensively as she holds a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage while leading the conference in chances (219) and putouts (205).

• Putich Power
Senior shortstop Brittany Putich drove in two runs, including the game winner, on a single to right field in the latter half of Sunday's doubleheader. The Whittier, Calif. native is seventh on the team hitting .208 and is third with 13 RBI. She also has gone 5-for-6 in stolen base attempts.

• She's Got The Wright Stuff
Despite having no hits on Sunday, sophomore outfielder Tiffany Wright did contribute one run and an RBI to the Gaucho effort. The Corona, Calif. native is fourth on the team hitting .277 overall and is tied for first on the team with 10 extra base hits: six doubles, one triple and three home runs. She is also tied for first on the team with 16 RBI, is third with a .482 slugging percentage and is second with six stolen bases. Hitting in the clean-up spot for the Gauchos, Wright has had hits in 16 of the 27 games played this season including five multi-hit games.

• Robbing Them Blind
The Gauchos have been dominant on the base paths with a conference-leading 34 stolen bases this season. Leading Santa Barbara is Ramos who has gone 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts. In contrast, the Gauchos have held opponents to just 20 stolen bags this season.

• In the Dugout With Coach Schroeder
Kristy Schroeder enters her sixth 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. In 2006, Schroeder led the Gauchos to a 24-22 record, an 8-10 Big West mark and the second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. 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 on Feb. 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 eight seasons as head coach, Schroeder has a career record of 295-175-1 (.626) and with the Gauchos is 162-141 (.535).

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Hitting .207 with .361 OB%, leads the team with 12 walks.
1B - Jessica Hejna - Was 2-for-6 with a run scored in doubleheader versus LMU.
2B - Christine Ramos - Batted .600 with two runs, a double and an RBI on Sunday.
SS - Brittany Putich - Batted in two runs in second game versus Loyola Marymount.
3B - Tisha Duran - Went 2-for-6 with two runs and an RBI double on Sunday.
LF - Nicole Churnock - Went 1-for-2 with a run in the Gauchos' 6-2 win vs. LMU.
CF - Tiffany Wright - Scored a run and collected an RBI in Sunday's doubleheader.
RF - Liz Walters - Was 1-for-3 in second game of the weekend, hitting .158 on the year.
P - Jennifer Davis - Struck-out 10 batters in narrow 4-3 loss to Loyola Marymount.
DP - Danielle Meyers - Hitting .130 on the season with nine RBI, tied fourth on team.

• Poll Points
Since receiving votes three weeks ago in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Softball Poll, the Gauchos have yet to reappear on the list. Santa Barbara received votes in the Feb. 13 ESPN.com poll, but have yet to be ranked in either poll's Top 25. Conference foe Cal State Fullerton has received votes in both of this week's polls and Cal Poly has garnered votes in the ESPN.com poll. In the 2007 Big West Preseason Poll released in late January, the Gauchos were picked to once again finish fourth in the competitive conference. UCSB was tied in the fourth place spot with Pacific, which each received 25 points in the coaches' poll. Cal State Fullerton was picked to repeat as the conference champion while Cal Poly and Long Beach State rounded out the top three spots in the poll. The official Big West season will start for Santa Barbara when it hosts Fullerton this weekend.

• Bringing Down The Bruins
No. 11 UCLA currently holds a 24-6 overall season record and is amidst a 12-game win streak after picking up two shutout wins over Cal Poly on Sunday. Krista Colburn leads the Bruins hitting .418 on the season while five other UCLA players are all hitting over .300 for a team batting average of .336. The Bruins have combined for 86 extra base hits including an impressive 40 homeruns. Anjelica Selden leads the UCLA pitching staff with her 12-3 record and holds a 2.08 ERA. The Bruins have a collective season ERA of 1.65. This season, the 11-time national champions, have posted a 6-0 record against Big West schools, but have been upset twice by unranked schools. The Bruins lead the all-time series with UCSB 59-2 with the Gauchos' last win being a 1-0 victory in 1991. Santa Barbara's first ever win over the Bruins was also a 1-0 win, in 1986. Last season, UCLA defeated the Gauchos 9-3 on February 10.

• Coming Soon
After Tuesday's match-up with the Bruins, the Gauchos will return home to open the Big West season against the defending conference champions Cal State Fullerton in a three game series. The Gauchos will play a doubleheader on Saturday scheduled for noon and 2:00 p.m. followed by the series closer at noon on Sunday. All three games will be played at Santa Barbara's very own Campus Diamond.