May 10, 2006

UCSB Hosts Long Beach State to Wrap Up Big West Play, Looks For Strong Finish in Conference Standings

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May 10, 2006

• The Schedule
Games No. 42, 43, 44
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
at UCSB's Campus Diamond
Friday, May 12, 2006
Game 1 - 12:00 p.m.
Game 2 - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Game 3 - 12:00 p.m.

• The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara returns to Campus Diamond for its final series of the year this weekend with an overall record of 23-18 and a 7-8 Big West mark after sweeping UC Riverside May 6-7. The Gauchos earned their first three-game sweep of the year against the Highlanders after dropping two of three in each of the two previous series at Cal State Northridge and against Cal Poly. UCSB has won four straight and seven of the last 11 to find itself in fourth place in the BWC standings, its highest position all season. The Gauchos, who have an opportunity to finish third with a sweep of Long Beach State, are 6-4 at home in 2006.

• UCSB Posts Sweep of UC Riverside
As the Gauchos have seen throughout the 2006 season, it is not easy to win three-straight games against any team in the Big West. Entering the series with UCR, UCSB had not swept an opponent all year, nor been the victims of a sweep. The Gauchos finally broke that trend, taking all three contests with the Highlanders over the weekend. In game one, Tiffany Wright hit her sixth home run of the season and Danielle Meyer's two-run single in the sixth inning powered UCSB to a 4-0 victory. The Gauchos then took the nightcap 2-1 after an Ericka Hansen RBI double in the first and Brittany Putich's fifth inning single through the right side allowed Kendra Singley to scored the eventual winning run. Santa Barbara completed the sweep with a 2-1 win in the finale after Singley drove in the winning run in the top of the eighth, breaking a 1-1 tie. Jennifer Davis was tremendous once again in the circle for the Gauchos, pitching every inning. In fact you might say she was...

• As Dominant as Ever
Jennifer Davis earned her second Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week award this year after her performance in the circle propelled the Gauchos to the three-game sweep against UC Riverside. The junior started all three games, allowed a total of just two runs--one earned--on eight hits and improved 17-13 overall this season after earning the victory in each contest. Davis went the distance in each game, turning in a total of 22.0 innings with 30 strikeouts. In the opener, the Whittier, Calif. blanked the Highlanders on just three hits for her 17th career shutout as the Gauchos took game one 4-0. She struck out 11 and walked three in seven complete innings. Davis then took the circle in the nightcap and flirted with a no-hitter until allowing a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning. That was the only hit of the game and the only earned run she allowed in the series. Davis fanned seven and walked five powering UCSB to a 2-1 victory. The Gauchos' ace got the nod again Sunday and allowed one run on three hits as Santa Barbara pulled out the 2-1 win in eight innings to complete the series sweep. Davis struck out 12 batters, which is one shy of her season-high, and walked only one in eight innings pitched.

• Ahead of the Curve
One of the Gauchos' strong points all season has been the ability to hold a lead. While most teams are generally successful in keeping a lead in the late innings, UCSB has shown the ability to put the clamps down in every frame, with the most impressive numbers coming in the early goings. The squad is an effective 7-2 when leading after the first inning, 10-3 with a lead after two, and an astounding 16-1 when ahead after three innings this season. The Gauchos continued to handle their business working with the lead in the three wins last weekend in Riverside. They scored first in the fifth inning of game one and never looked back, took a 2-0 lead that was more than enough for Davis in game two, and scored the winning run in the top of the eighth after the Highlanders tied the game for the first time in the series in the finale.

• Chasing History
Only a junior, ace Jennifer Davis ranks among the all-time great Gaucho pitchers. She has been a force in the circle all season and showed her ability to dominate an opponent once again against UC Riverside. Davis has now been the pitcher of record in 30 of UCSB's 41 games and has logged roughly 70% of the team's total innings pitched (194.2 of a possible 278). The Whittier, Calif. native garnered her sixth career Big West Pitcher of the Week honors and second this season for her recent performance, with the first coming after she pitched a three-hit shutout of No. 5 Stanford Mar. 4. Davis is now 17-13 with an ERA of 2.73 and 207 strikeouts--the second highest total in the Big West. She is currently second on the UCSB Career Top 10 strikeouts list with a total of 603 and her career totals of 46 wins and 552 innings pitched rank third and sixth on the all-time charts, respectively. Davis has gone the distance in 25 of the 29 contests she has started this season and ranks sixth all-time with 57 career complete games. She has already recorded career-bests this season in victories, strikeouts, complete games, and innings pitched.

• The Singley Watch
Junior center fielder Kendra Singley has carried a big bat for the Gaucho's in 2006, ranking first or second in batting throughout the year. One of the team's most reliable players, she is currently second, hitting .305 and has recorded a team-best seven home runs, 27 runs batted in and six doubles. The Irvine, Calif. native has homered in three of UCSB's last seven games and has tied her 2004 total of seven, which is the ninth-best single season at UCSB. For her career, Singley has 18 homers, the program's fourth-highest total, while her 84 RBI also register fourth in the all-time record books. In fact, she needs only six more dingers to pass Tonya Dias (1997-2000) and become the Gauchos' all-time home run leader. One week after hitting .363 (4-for-11) with two homers, two runs and five RBI in the Cal Poly series, Singley scored the eventual winning run in game two with Riverside and won the finale with an RBI single in the eighth inning.

• Shining In the Top Spot
Freshman second baseman Christine Ramos has been the presence at the top of the order that the Gauchos lacked in 2005 all season. Hitting in the leadoff spot for most of the year, she boasts team-highs in batting average at .341, hits with 46 and runs with 19, while her .403 on base percentage and seven stolen bases are second. She ranks sixth in the Big West in batting and is on pace to crack the UCSB single season Top 10. The Long Beach, Calif. native earned Hawaiian Airlines Spring Fling All-Tournament Team honors after hitting .500 with two RBI Mar. 8-11 in Honolulu. Ramos continued to produce against UC Riverside finishing the series 5-for-11 with a run scored.

• It's All Wright
Freshman Tiffany Wright has been dependable from day one for Santa Barbara, starting every game at first base this season. The Corona, Calif. native is second on the squad with six homers and 19 RBI and third batting .288. The six home runs she has hit are the third most ever by a UCSB freshman and she is one shy of breaking into the single season Top 10. Since hitting a jack in her first game as a Gaucho Feb. 9, the clean-up hitter's bat has been a force in the lineup all year. Wright has been especially hot the last month the of the season, doubling and driving in what proved to be the winning run in Santa Barbara's 4-3 win over Pacific Apr. 8. She was also dominant against Northridge Apr. 23, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and a career-high four RBI in the 13-5 win. More recently, Wright followed her 2-for-4 performance that included a run scored and an RBI in the victory over Cal Poly two weeks ago with her sixth home run of the year in the fifth in the opener with the Highlanders.

• In a Groove
After struggling at the plate early in the season, junior shortstop Brittany Putich has completely turned things around and continues to produce each and every week. In fact, she has been on an absolute tear since her play at UC Davis Apr. 15 helped guide the Gauchos to their first series win of the season. Against the Aggies, Putich stole three bags, scored twice and chipped in with a two-run double in the finale. The Whittier, Calif. was even better two weeks ago against Cal Poly, hitting .556 (5-for-9), scoring in every game and driving in UCSB's second run in game two. She also continued her attack on the base paths, stealing three in the series. Putich drove in what proved to be the winning run against UCR in the nightcap Saturday and scored the Gauchos' first run in Sunday's finale. The two-time All-Big West honoree leads the team with 14 stolen bases and 20 runs scored in 2006 and is hitting .350 against Big West Conference pitching. Her overall average is up to a season-high .224.

• Miss Versatility
Junior left fielder Jessica Hejna has done whatever the team has needed her do to at the plate this season and she has done it well. In addition to hitting .222 with 12 runs and 15 RBI, the Orange, Calif. native leads the team and the Big West with 16 sacrifice bunts and five sac flies. She is also the only Gaucho to have started all 41 games this year and still maintain a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Hejna reached on a fielder's choice and scored the Gauchos' first run in game two with Riverside. She came up big in game three with Cal Poly two weeks ago, finishing 1-for-2 with a walk, a run, three RBI and a stolen base. Hejna went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a pair of runs scored and three runs batted in Apr. 23, helping lead Santa Barbara to victory over Cal State Northridge in the series finale.

• Mighty Meyers
One of the Gauchos' hottest players of late has been sophomore third baseman and designated hitter Danielle Meyers. After starting for the first time since Mar. 5 in the series against UC Davis Apr. 14-15 and driving in four runs, including a two-run homer, Meyers has been in the starting lineup in every game since. The Lodi, Calif. had a tremendous series against Cal State Northridge Apr. 22-23 that included a 3-for-4 showing with two runs scored and a pair of RBI in the 13-5 win in the finale. Two weeks ago, she went 1-for-2 with a run and two walks in the 9-5 game three victory over Cal Poly. Meyers drove in two of UCSB's four runs on a single to left field in the sixth inning of the opener with UCR. She is hitting .283 with five runs and nine RBI in 23 games this season and is second on the squad with a .375 batting average and an on base percentage of .483 in Big West play.

• 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 of 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 275-163-1 (.627), while her mark with the Gauchos is 142-129 (.524).

• Gutierrez No Longer With UCSB
On Thursday, Mar. 30, head coach Kristy Schroeder announced that junior pitcher Ginger Gutierrez would no longer be with the program due to ineligibility. The transfer from Ventura College had a record of 4-2 with 26 strikeouts and nine walks in nine appearances. Pitching in the second spot of UCSB's rotation, Gutierrez led the team and ranked second in the Big West with a 1.77 ERA in 2006.

• Probable Gaucho Starters - Notes
C - Ericka Hansen - Doubled and drove in UCSB's first run in game two with UC Riverside
1B - Tiffany Wright - Hit her sixth home run of the year in Highlander opener
2B - Christine Ramos - Team leader hitting .341 with 46 hits this season
3B - Shelby Hensler - Started 30 games at third base in 2006
SS - Brittany Putich - Leads the squad with 20 runs and 14 stolen bases this year
LF - Jessica Hejna - Big West Conference leader with 16 sacrifice bunts and five sac flies
CF - Kendra Singley - Paces the UCSB offense with seven home runs and 26 RBI
RF - Nicole Churnock - Scored the winning run in the eighth inning in the finale with Highlanders
DP - Danielle Meyers - Only Gaucho to drive in two runs in series with UCR

• Gaucho Pitchers - Notes
P - Jennifer Davis - Gaucho workhorse has a 17-13 record, with a 2.73 ERA and 207 strikeouts after pitching every inning against UC Riverside
P - Tami Weston - Tossed her second straight complete game in game two against Cal Poly Apr. 29

• 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 - Appeared as a pinch runner and scored in the fourth inning against Cal Poly Apr. 29
OF - Liz Walters - Drove in Gauchos' first run of the game in 6-2 loss in Cal Poly opener
OF - Jackie Conlin - Came on to run in the final two games last weekend
DP - Adrienne Anderson - Has not been in the lineup the last seven games

• Scouting the 49ers
UCSB wraps up the 2006 season when it welcomes Long Beach State to town for a three-game set this weekend. The 49ers, who have won six of their last seven, own a 28-19 overall record and, along with Cal State Fullerton, sit atop the Big West Conference standings at 11-4 after taking the series with UC Davis May 6-7. CSULB is led by sophomore outfielder Jonae Perez, who is batting a team-high .310 with 35 hits, 10 runs and 11 RBI. Senior second baseman Tiffanie Wedell is hitting .259 with 22 runs and 17 RBI. Junior hurler Michelle Turner has shouldered most of the work in the circle for the 49ers, leading the conference with an ERA of 1.56 and 23 wins with 170 strikeouts in 201.2 innings pitched, also tops in the BWC. Turner also swings a big bat for Long Beach and is squad's leader with four home runs and 24 RBI. Sophomore Jennifer Martinez is 2-10 with a 5.65 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 74.1 innings of work. Long Beach State leads the overall series with UCSB 61-21-1 after sweeping the Gauchos May 7-8 last year in Long Beach. Santa Barbara's last victory in the series came after Jennifer Davis limited the 49ers to just one run in 4-1 victory May 8, 2004.