April 29, 2008
Games No. 49, 50, 51
Saturday, May 3, 2008
UCSB vs. Pacific, 12 & 2 p.m.
at Campus Diamond (500)
Sunday, May 4, 2008
UCSB vs. Pacific, 12 p.m.
at Campus Diamond (500)
This Week in Gaucho Softball
The UC Santa Barbara softball team returns to Campus Diamond this weekend for its final home games of the 2008 season. The Gauchos will host Pacific in a three-game Big West Conference series, which will start with a doubleheader at noon on Saturday and will conclude with a noon game on Sunday. Prior to Sunday's first pitch, UCSB will honor its five Gaucho seniors, playing their final home game of their collegiate careers. Sunday's "Senior Day" action will be broadcast on the internet at KCSB.org.
After opening the Big West schedule with sweeps of UC Riverside and Cal Poly, the Gauchos have failed to win a conference series in three weeks. Last weekend, UCSB dropped both games in a doubleheader against Big West newcomer UC Davis on Saturday by way of 2-1 and 4-1 scores. Like the previous two series, UCSB bounced back and won Sunday's series closer, 6-2. The Gauchos currently hold a season record of 26-22 overall and are 9-6 in the Big West. Despite losing the last three conference series, the Gauchos still are second in the Big West standings, four games behind Long Beach State (12-3) and one game ahead of Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton (both 8-7). With six regular season games left on the slate, the Gauchos still have a chance to post back-to-back 30-win seasons for just the second time in program history. Santa Barbara, which went 30-23 in 2007, last accomplished the feat during the 2003 (34-22) and 2004 (32-31) seasons.
Taming the Tigers
Pacific enters this weekend with an overall record of 23-30 and a Big West mark of 5-10. The Tigers opened last weekend with an 11-2 mercy win over Cal Poly before dropping the series with 6-3 and 3-0 losses in the final two games. Casey Gossland leads the team at the plate batting .355 this season and .383 in Big West conference games. In the circle, Chelsea Engle has done the bulk of the work for the Tigers and has posted a 14-16 record with a 2.39 ERA and 155 strikeouts. Last season's series between UCSB and Pacific was a tightly contested one. The Tigers took a pair of eight-inning one-run victories (3-2 and 5-4) on Saturday and then completed the sweep with a 1-0 win in the final game. Overall, Pacific leads the all-time series with the Gauchos, 56-34.
The Gauchos continue to lead the Big West offensively this season. With its current league-leading .285 collective batting average, UCSB is on pace to set a new school record, surpassing the .275 team average by the 1999 squad. The Gauchos are also only three home runs away from tying the 2005 team's 36. In addition to leading the BWC for batting average and home runs, the Gauchos are tops for slugging percentage (.416), runs scored (202), hits (365), RBI (179), triples (11), and total bases (533). Last season, the Gauchos relied heavily on the small ball to get runs across the plate and batted a conference-low .248 with 83 extra-base hits (49 2B, 10 3B, 24 HR) and 148 runs. This season, UCSB has already surpassed last season's runs, triples, and home run output and have 86 extra-base hits (47 2B, 11 3B, 33 HR). UCSB ranks 63rd nationally for team batting average, 67th for home runs per game (0.69), 41st for triples per game (0.23), and 60th for slugging percentage (.416). The Gaucho defense has also been impressive this season and is first in the league with their .968 fielding percentage and ranks 42nd nationally amongst Division I teams. The Gauchos' 0.35 double plays per game (17 total) ranks 37th nationally.
The Ramos Rundown
Junior Christine Ramos currently is second amongst the Gauchos with her .335 batting average this season and leads the team with 56 hits. The second baseman led UCSB last weekend, batting .600 (6-for-10) across the three games with one run and a stolen base. After going 2-for-4 in game one against the Aggies, Ramos then went 3-for-3 in Saturday's second pairing. She rounded out the weekend with a hit, a run, and a stolen base in UCSB's 6-2 victory on Sunday. The second baseman ranks sixth in the Big West with her season batting average, tied eighth with her 28 runs scored, third for hits, and tied third with her 13 stolen bases.
The Wright Stuff
Junior Tiffany Wright has been dominant since the Big West schedule started. In league games, she ranks first amongst all players for runs scored (14), hits (22), home runs (6), and total bases (43). She ranks second for batting average (.423), stolen bases (4), slugging percentage (.827), and RBI (16). For the season, she is hitting a career-high .307, good for third on the team, and is second with nine home runs and 30 RBI. She currently has 20 career home runs, which is tied for third all-time, she needs just three more to reach the UCSB career homer record set by Tonya Dias in 2000. After going 0-for-4 in the first game last weekend, Wright found her groove and went 1-for-3 with a double and a run in Saturday's second game before going 2-for-4 with two runs, a double, an RBI, and a stolen base in the Gauchos' win on Sunday. The center fielder has had at least one hit in 14 of the last 17 games, including seven multiple-hit showings.
How About Hansen?
Senior catcher Ericka Hansen had another solid weekend at the plate, posting a .333 (3-for-9) batting average and an RBI in Sunday's win. Batting .299 overall this season, she has posted a .351 average in conference games ranking eighth amongst Big West players. She has also committed just two errors behind the plate and owns a .985 fielding percentage.
A weekend after surpassing the Gaucho single season RBI and home run records, senior Tisha Duran was relatively quiet at the plate last Saturday when, for the first time this season, she was held hitless in back-to-back contests. She recovered and went 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of RBI on Sunday. The Ventura, Calif. native currently leads the Gauchos and is fourth in the Big West with her .359 batting average. She leads the conference with her 31 runs scored (tied with teammates Jessica Ziegler and Tiffany Wright), 50 RBI, 101 total bases, and 13 home runs. Not just a leader in the Big West, Duran also ranks 36th nationally for home runs per game (0.27), 17th for RBI per game (1.04), 55th for slugging percentage, and 28th for total home runs. She also ranks as the 94th toughest batter in the nation to strikeout, followed by Christine Ramos who ranks 97th.
The Ziegler Zone
Sophomore Jessica Ziegler is tied for first in the Big West with her 31 runs scored and is also second for sac bunts (11), and stolen bases (14). The first baseman is second for chances (391) and putouts (355), and leads the conference for fielding double plays with 16. Overall, she is hitting .258 on the season in the number two spot and has tallied 14 RBI. She has also posted a solid .987 fielding percentage, the highest on the team amongst players that have started every game. At Davis, Ziegler went 3-for-11 with a hit in each game. She went 1-for-4 in the final contest with a stolen base and two runs.
Her Name is Nicole
One of the five seniors who will say goodbye to Campus Diamond on Sunday is Nicole Churnock. Churnock is fourth on the team with her .299 batting average and has posted 13 RBI this year. In Saturday's first game, the outfielder had a hit and scored a run. She rounded out the weekend with an RBI single in Sunday's win.
Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto tossed 12.1 innings over the weekend. She pitched all six innings of game one against the Aggies and allowed just two runs, one of which was earned, on six hits with no walks and one strikeout. She came in two thirds of the way into the second game and allowed three earned runs on six hits with three walks. Matsumoto closed out the weekend pitching the final inning of Sunday's game and allowed just one hit and struck out one to help the Gauchos preserve the 6-2 win. The Union City, Calif. native recorded a 2.27 ERA over the weekend and holds an overall 3.96 ERA this season. She has an overall record of 7-9 and has gone 3-1 in conference contests with a 3.05 Big West ERA. Five of her nine losses this season came against teams that are currently nationally ranked or were ranked at the time of the game.
Junior Tami Weston struggled in the Gauchos' second game against UC Davis, allowing one run on one hit with two walks in the first inning of the game. She bounced back though, and received the starting nod in the series' closer. She pitched a solid six innings and allowed just two earned runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Weston leads the Gauchos with her 3.24 season ERA and has a 2.33 ERA in conference games. She currently has a 9-6 record in her 22 appearances and has recorded 65 strikeouts.
In The Dugout With Coach Galicinao
Former UCSB assistant, Brie Galicinao took the helm of the Gaucho softball program last June. Galicinao is a 2002 graduate of Princeton where she was a four-year starting pitcher and utility player for the Tigers and was named the 2001 and 2002 Ivy League Player of the Year. The Stockton, Calif. native served as Kristy Schroeder's assistant for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, helping guide the Gauchos to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Under her tutelage, Jennifer Davis became the Big West and Gaucho career strikeout record holder and the 2007 UCSB pitching staff led the conference for ERA.
UCSB will conclude the regular season on the road at Cal State Fullerton on May 9-10. The Gauchos will play a doubleheader with the Titans beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday and conclude the three-game series on Saturday at noon.