Gauchos Open Big West Season With Three Game Series Against Defending Conference Champs Fullerton

March 28, 2007

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• The Schedule
Games No. 29, 30, 31
at Campus Diamond (500)

Saturday, March 31, 2007
UC Santa Barbara (20-8) vs. Cal State Fullerton (18-15), 12:00 & 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 1, 2007
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Fullerton, 12:00 p.m.

• The Week Ahead
The Gauchos will open their much-anticipated Big West Conference season this Saturday and Sunday when they host defending champions Cal State Fullerton for a three game series. Saturday's doubleheader is scheduled to begin at noon and the series will close on Sunday with another noon match-up. All three games will be played at Santa Barbara's Campus Diamond.

• An Update: Gauchos Upset No. 11 UCLA On Tuesday
On Tuesday, the UC Santa Barbara softball team partied like it was 1991 when they upset No. 11 UCLA earning their first win over the Bruins in 16 years. The win was also significant for head coach Kristy Schroeder as it was her first over her alma mater. Trailing 1-0 after the first inning, the Gauchos loaded the bases at the top of the second inning and a walk by Jessica Hejna brought home the first UCSB run. Tisha Duran followed with a two-run single that put the Gauchos ahead at 3-1. The remainder of the game was a defensive battle, as each team was held scoreless with pitcher Jennifer Davis allowing only one hit and striking out six batters leading UCSB to the 3-1 victory.

• For The Record
With Tuesday's win, the Gauchos reached 20 wins on the season and are now 20-8 overall, which is the best start the program has gotten off to since the 2003 season when UCSB 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 (.714) behind Cal Poly, which has gotten off to an impressive 24-9 start. With the win over UCLA, the Gauchos are now 3-3 in games against opponents ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Softball Poll. The Gauchos will carry an 11-2 home record into this weekend's series at Campus Diamond.

• Davis In The Circle
Senior Jennifer Davis picked up the win for the Gauchos versus UCLA. The hurler entered the game in the second inning while the bases were loaded with two outs, Davis helped the Gauchos out of the inning and then pitched 5.1 innings allowing just one hit, walking two and striking out six. Last weekend, despite picking up the loss to Loyola Marymount in Sunday's first game, she had another solid performance in the circle for the Gauchos. She 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. Eighty-five 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 4-6 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 1.09 ERA and a .143 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 .226 on the season good for fifth on the team and was 1-for-3 with three walks in the doubleheader against LMU.

• The Dish On Tish
Junior third basemen Tisha Duran has been a consistent force at the plate for the Gauchos this season and Tuesday's game showcased that when she went 1-for-4 with the game-winning two-run single to center field. She is currently second on the team hitting .321 with a team-leading eight doubles and 18 RBI. The Ventura, Calif. native went 2-for-4 with a double, a run, a stolen base and an RBI in the loss to LMU on Sunday. She also tallied a walk and a run in the second game vs. the Lions. Duran has had hits in 18 of the Gauchos' 28 games this season and has posted six multi-hit games. The junior is also second on the team with 18 runs.

• The Ramos Rundown
Sophomore second basemen Christine Ramos stretched her hit streak to a season-high tying seven games after going 1-for-3 with a run on Tuesday. Over the weekend she hit a team-high .600 going 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI versus LMU. The Long Beach, Calif. native has had hits in 21 of the Gauchos' 28 games this season, including 14 multiple hit games. The leadoff hitter leads the Gauchos hitting .407 on the season and also has collected 21 runs with a .455 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 (37), 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. She also started against UCLA and pitched 1.2 innings allowing one run on four hits while walking three and striking out one. Matsumoto is now 9-1 on the year and has a season ERA of 2.26. 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 holds an opponent's batting average of .252.

• Hurler Hype
The UCSB pitching staff continues to lead the conference with their combined ERA of 1.58 and opposing batting average of .183. The Gauchos have also allowed the fewest runs and earned runs in the conference having given up only 57 total runs this season, 43 of which were earned. UCSB has also allowed the fewest doubles (21) and homeruns (10). In addition to Davis and Matsumoto, hurlers Lindsey Correa and Tami Weston have contributed 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.

• Honing In On Hejna
Senior Jessica Hejna went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in Tuesday's victory. She is currently amidst a season-high five game hit streak. The Orange, Calif. native is currently third on the team hitting .303 on the season with a .395 slugging percentage and a .391 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 (224) and putouts (211).

• Putich Power
After driving in two runs, including the game winner, on a single to right field in the latter half of Sunday's doubleheader versus Loyola Marymount, senior shortstop Brittany Putich followed up with a 2-for-4 showing along with a stolen base at UCLA on Tuesday. The Whittier, Calif. native is seventh on the team hitting .222 and is third with 13 RBI. She also has gone 6-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

• She's Got The Wright Stuff
Sophomore outfielder Tiffany Wright pitched in a 2-for-3 performance accompanied by a stolen base in the Gauchos' win over the Bruins. The Corona, Calif. native is fourth on the team hitting .291 overall and is tied for first on the team with 10 extra base hits: six doubles, one triple and three home runs. She is second on the team with 16 RBI, is first with a .488 slugging percentage and is second with seven stolen bases. Hitting in the clean-up spot for the Gauchos, Wright has had hits in 17 of the 28 games played this season including six multi-hit games.

• Robbing Them Blind
The Gauchos have been dominant on the base paths with a conference-leading 36 stolen bases this season. Leading Santa Barbara is Ramos who has gone 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts and Wright who is 7-for-11. In contrast, the Gauchos have held opponents to just 22 stolen bags this season.

• In the Dugout With Coach Schroeder
Kristy Schroeder is in 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 296-175-1 (.627) and with the Gauchos is 163-141 (.536).

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Hitting .197 with .347 OB%, leads the team with 12 walks.
1B - Jessica Hejna - Was 1-for-3 with an RBI in win over UCLA on Tuesday.
2B - Christine Ramos - Leads team hitting .407, went 1-for-3 with a run vs. the Bruins.
SS - Brittany Putich - Had 2-for-4 performance against UCLA along with a stolen base.
3B - Tisha Duran - Her two-run single brought home the game-winning run on Tuesday.
LF - Nicole Churnock - Scored a run versus UCLA, is hitting .226 overall on the season.
CF - Tiffany Wright - Was 2-for-3 with a stolen base against the Bruins.
RF - Liz Walters - Earned two walks in win over UCLA, leads team with three homeruns.
P - Jennifer Davis - Allowed only one hit and struck out six en route to win over UCLA.
DP - Danielle Meyers - Hitting .130 on the season with nine RBI, tied fourth on team.

• Poll Watch
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 poll, but have yet to be ranked in either poll's Top 25. Conference foe Cal Poly has received votes in both of this week's polls and Cal State Fullerton has garnered votes in the 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.

• Taking Down The Titans
The defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton comes to Campus Diamond on Saturday sporting an 18-15 record after splitting a mid-week doubleheader with Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. The Titans fell to LMU, 2-0 in the first game before coming back and taking game two, 10-3. Ashley Van Boxmeer currently leads the Titans hitting .317 on the season with five homers, 15 RBI and a .512 slugging percentage. Two-time Big West Pitcher of the Week Candice Baker leads the Titan staff with her 2.06 ERA, 10-8 record and 158 strikeouts. Fullerton leads the all-time series with UCSB, 85-7 and won two of the three games in last season's series versus the Gauchos.

• Coming Soon
Next weekend, the Gauchos will hit the road for a three game series against conference foe Pacific. The Tigers and UCSB will meet up for a pair of games on Friday scheduled to start at noon at Pacific followed by a noon series closer on Saturday.