May 7, 2008
Games No. 52, 53, 54
Friday, May 9, 2008
UCSB at Cal State Fullerton, 4 & 6 p.m.
at Anderson Family Field
Saturday, May 10, 2008
UCSB at Cal State Fullerton, 12 p.m.
at Anderson Family Field
This Week in Gaucho Softball
The UC Santa Barbara softball team concludes the 2008 regular season this week in a crucial series against Cal State Fullerton. The two teams will open the Big West series with a double-header on Friday set for a 4 p.m. start and will conclude it with a noon game on Saturday. Saturday's game will be broadcast on KCSB 91.9 FM and can also be heard at KCSB.org.
For the Record
After dropping three straight conference series, the Gauchos returned to their winning ways, taking last weekend's series over Pacific. UCSB defeated the Tigers twice on Saturday by way of 7-4 and 3-1 scores before falling in the series finale, 8-6, on Sunday at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos currently hold a season record of 28-23 overall and are 11-7 in the Big West. With three 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.
How the Big West Will Be Won
With their series win last week, the Gauchos still rank second in the Big West Conference standings, two games behind conference-leader Long Beach State (13-5) and one game ahead of a three-way tie between Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, and Cal State Northridge, which have all gone 10-8 in conference games. The Gauchos still have a chance at the conference crown if they are able to sweep Fullerton this weekend and if Long Beach State gets swept by Pacific. Long Beach can wrap-up the championship, however, with one win over Pacific.
Let's Talk About the Titans
Cal State Fullerton enters this weekend with an overall record of 26-24-1 and a 10-8 Big West mark. The Titans have been hot lately, winning eight of their last 10 contests and just last weekend, they won two out of three games against conference-leader Long Beach State. Kiki Munoz leads the team with her .421 batting average and she has also posted 20 runs and 24 RBI. In the circle, current Big West Pitcher of the Week Jessica Doucette has posted a 13-12 record and a 2.21 ERA in her 29 appearances. She also has a team-leading 131 strikeouts. Fullerton swept last season's series with the Gauchos and the Titans lead the all-time series, 88-7. UCSB posted its last series win over Fullerton during the 2004 season.
Tiffany Wright Picks Up Second Player of the Week Honor
Junior Tiffany Wright earned Big West Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after helping the Gauchos to the series win over Pacific. She opened the series going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs in UCSB's 7-4 win. Later in the day, she went 1-for-3 with a run in the nightcap of the twinbill to help the Gauchos to a 3-1 victory. She closed out the series going 2-for-4 with a homer, two RBI, two runs scored, and a double in UCSB's 8-6 loss.
The Wright Stuff
Last weekend was no fluke, Tiffany Wright has been dominant since the Big West schedule started. In league games, she ranks first amongst all players for batting average (.444), slugging percentage (.873), runs scored (19), hits (28), doubles (6), home runs (7), and total bases (55). For the season, she is hitting a career-high .323, good for third on the team, and is first for runs scored (36) and second with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. She currently has 21 career home runs, which ranks third all-time, she needs just two more to reach the UCSB career homer record set by Tonya Dias in 2000. The center fielder has had at least one hit in 17 of the Gauchos' last 20 games, including nine multiple-hit showings.
The Gauchos continue to lead the Big West offensively this season. With its current league-leading .284 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 one home run away from tying the 2005 team's 36 and one run away from tying the 2000 squad's 218. This past weekend, UCSB tied the school record for RBI set in 2000 with its 195th and the Gauchos have surpassed the 2004 squad's 545 total bases with 571. In addition to leading the BWC for batting average, runs scored, RBI, total bases, and home runs, the Gauchos are tops for slugging percentage (.419), hits (414), and triples (11). UCSB ranks 63rd nationally for team batting average, 65th for home runs per game (0.69), 41st for triples per game (0.22), and 56th for slugging percentage (.419). The Gaucho defense has also been impressive this season and ranks 57th nationally amongst Division I teams with their .967 fielding percentage. The Gauchos' 0.33 double plays per game (17 total) ranks 49th nationally.
Senior third baseman Tisha Duran continues to lead the Gauchos offensively this season with her .367 batting average and leads the conference with her 52 RBI, 13 home runs, and 108 total bases. In fact, she is one of only five Big West players to ever surpass 50 RBI in a single season and is seven away from tying the conference record of 59. Not just a leader in the Big West, Duran also ranks 44th nationally for home runs per game (0.25), 18th for RBI per game (1.02), 45th for slugging percentage (.720), and she ranks as the 73rd toughest batter in the nation to strikeout. Duran was solid at the plate last weekend, batting .500 with four runs, three doubles, and two RBI. In the first game of the weekend, she went 2-for-3 with two runs, two doubles, two RBI, and a walk. The next game, she once again was 2-for-3 with a run, a double, and an RBI. She rounded out the weekend with two walks and a run in game three.
How About Hansen?
Senior catcher Ericka Hansen had yet another solid weekend at the plate, posting a .444 (4-for-9) batting average while leading UCSB to its 7-4 victory in game one of the Pacific series. The Gauchos and Tigers were tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning and with two runners on, Hansen hit a walk-off home run, giving UCSB the victory. She rounded out the weekend going 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a run in game two and finished the series going 1-for-3 with a walk, a run, and a stolen base in game three. Overall, the catcher is batting a career-best .316 this season and she ranks fifth amongst Big West players with her .370 conference batting average, ninth for slugging percentage (.522), and seventh for RBI (11).
The Ramos Rundown
Junior Christine Ramos currently is second amongst the Gauchos with her .337 batting average this season and leads the team with 60 hits. The second baseman batted .364 last weekend with a run, a double, and a stolen base. Ramos currently ranks sixth in the Big West with her season batting average, third for hits, tied ninth with her 29 runs scored, and fifth with her 14 stolen bases. She has had a hit in seven of the last eight games, including four multiple-hit performances.
Senior Nicole Churnock has started every game in left field this season for the Gauchos and is currently batting a career-best .294 out of the number nine spot. She has posted 13 runs, 13 RBI, and is third on the team with eight doubles. Over the weekend, she went 2-for-3 in the first game against the Tigers. In right field is sophomore Priscilla Perez, who is batting .216 on the season and has tallied six runs and nine RBI. Perez has also posted a solid .980 fielding percentage. Last weekend, she tallied an RBI in each of the three games.
Accompanying Duran and Ramos in the infield this season have been a pair of underclassman: freshman Jessica Beristianos and sophomore Jessica Ziegler. Overall, shortstop Beristianos is batting .245 on the season and has accumulated 12 extra-base hits. The freshman had a pair of doubles over the weekend and recorded a total of five RBI, including a career-high three RBI in Sunday's series closer. First baseman Ziegler is batting .241 overall and is third on the team with 31 runs scored and leads the Gauchos with 15 stolen bases, which ranks second in the Big West. She also ranks third with her 11 sac bunts. Defensively, Ziegler has recorded a .988 fielding percentage and leads the conference with her 16 fielding double plays, while ranking second for chances (413) and putouts (377).
Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto tossed 10 innings over the weekend and picked up the win in game one with the Tigers and the loss in game three. In the first contest, she pitched a complete game and allowed four earned runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts. The loss on Sunday came after tossing three innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. The Union City, Calif. native currently holds an 8-10 record and a 3.92 season ERA. In Big West games, she has gone 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA.
Junior Tami Weston pitched game two of the series and had a solid outing, just allowing one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. She had a bit of a rough time on Sunday though, when she allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with one walk in 1.1 innings of work. Currently Weston holds a team-leading 3.25 ERA in 24 appearances and a 10-6 record. In conference games she has gone 5-3 with a 2.50 ERA. Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Correa pitched the final 2.2 innings of the Sunday game and was solid, allowing no runs on just two hits with one walk and one strikeout. It marked her first appearance in the circle since April 19.
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.
If the Gauchos are unable to grab the Big West title this weekend, and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament that comes with it, they will have to wait until Sunday evening to find out if they will be making their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals via an at-large berth. The 2008 NCAA Division I Softball Selection show will air at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 11 on ESPNU. Following the official selection show, ESPNNews will televise a DI Softball update that will include the bracket announcement.