Gauchos Set to Make Second Consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearance
May 16, 2007
NCAA Division I Softball Championships
Los Angeles Regional @ UCLA's Easton Stadium (1,328)
All games covered exclusively on ESPNU
Friday, May 18, 2007
Game 1: UC Santa Barbara (30-21) vs. Hawai'i (46-11), 2:30 p.m.
Game 2: No. 12 UCLA (36-16) vs. Loyola Marymount (45-16), 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2:30 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 5:30 p.m.
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 2:30 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 5 p.m.
Numerous Ways To Catch The Action
All games of the Los Angeles Regional will be broadcast live exclusively on ESPNU with Beth Mowins doing play-by-play and Gaucho volunteer assistant coach and Olympian Jessica Mendoza doing the color commentary. If you can't catch the action on TV, UCSB's own KCSB 91.9 FM will be broadcasting all of the postseason action on the radio as well as streaming online at www.kcsb.org.
For The Record
The Gauchos concluded the regular season with a 30-21 (.588) overall record and a 7-10 mark in Big West play. Last weekend UCSB took one game out of three against Big West foe Long Beach State, dropping game one 3-0 before taking the second game of Friday's doubleheader, 2-1. The 49ers captured the series win on Saturday after posting a 1-0 shutout over the Gauchos. This year's team is only the third in program history to post a 30-win season and the third to earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament. This season is also the second-most winningest season in program history after 2003 when the Gauchos finished 34-22 (.607).
The Third Time's A Charm
The Gauchos will be making their third postseason appearance when they travel to Los Angeles this weekend for the NCAA Regionals. Santa Barbara earned its first NCAA appearance in 2004 after finishing 32-31 overall and 14-7 in the Big West, the highest conference finish in school history. UCSB lost twice in the Tucson Regional, falling 8-1 to Northwestern before Temple handed the Gauchos a 3-0 defeat to end their season. Last season, the Gauchos were awarded their second-ever berth into the NCAA Tournament after posting an overall record of 24-20 and finishing with an 8-10 conference mark. UCSB traveled to the Evanston Regional where it dropped its first game to Notre Dame 5-2 and then lost a narrow 2-1 game to Southern Illinois. Santa Barbara enters this weekend's regional in search of its first postseason victory.
During the 2007 season, UCSB faced 13 of this season's 64 NCAA Tournament participants including the four additional Big West teams that qualified for the championship. The Gauchos have posted an 8-15 overall record against tournament teams and a 5-6 mark against non-Big West tournament qualifiers. In fact, the Gauchos have already faced two teams in their regional this weekend: they split a doubleheader with Loyola Marymount falling 3-4 before capturing a 6-2 win on March 25 and picked up a 3-1 win over then-ranked No. 11 UCLA two days later. Including the Bruins, the Gauchos have posted a 4-4 record this season against teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll including wins over then-ranked No. 23 Massachusetts, No. 2 Arizona State and No. 24 Fresno State.
Thanks Goodness For R-P-I
After getting off to a 0-8 conference start, the Gauchos knew their chances at an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships were slim. Thanks to an impressive non-conference schedule in which UCSB went 23-10 and faced some of the nation's best teams, the Gauchos' rating percentage index rank was 51st on May 9 helping them earn their second consecutive at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
The Fantastic Four
Santa Barbara's four seniors have not only helped the Gauchos to a four-year record of 112-96, they have also been with UCSB for all three NCAA Tournament appearances. Jennifer Davis, Jessica Hejna, Brittany Putich and Liz Walters will all be making their third appearance in the postseason in Los Angeles this weekend. Davis has been the pitcher of record in three of the Gauchos' four previous NCAA Championship games, while Hejna and Putich have started all four postseason contests the Gauchos have played.
Davis Doesn't Let Up
Do not let her 14-14 season record fool you, senior Jennifer Davis is a force to be reckoned with in the circle and has had an impressive final season at UCSB topping off an already stellar career. The Gauchos' ace made history on April 29 when she broke the Big West Conference all-time career strikeouts record in a game against Cal Poly. She now has 833 career K's making her the first person in school or conference history to post over 800 strikeouts. The Whittier, Calif. native currently is just one win away from tying UCSB's career pitcher's victories record of 62 wins set 20 years ago by Sandy Ortigies and has recently tied the school record for career shutouts with 23, six of which have come this season. Currently Davis leads the Big West and is 27th in the nation with her career-low 1.35 ERA and has an opponent's batting average of .164. The hurler has struck out 203 batters this season including 65 batters looking, both ranking second in conference. Davis has also been a reliable bat for the Gauchos hitting .253 this season with a team-leading six home runs.
Throughout the 2007 season, the Gauchos have relied on their strength in the circle to win games. The UCSB pitching staff has posted an ERA of 1.99 this season, leading all other Big West teams and ranking 40th amongst all Division I schools. The Gauchos also hold a .208 opponent's batting average, which is second behind Cal State Fullerton. Amongst Big West teams, UCSB has allowed the fewest number of runs (126) and earned runs (102). In fact, this season the Gauchos have thrown a total of 14 shutouts, almost double last season's eight. UCSB's average margin of loss this season is 2.39 runs and the Gauchos have lost 11 games by just a single run. In addition to Davis, freshman MeLinda Matsumtoto has been strong in the circle this season and holds a 2.63 ERA and a season record of 9-6.
Hejna Stays Hot
Senior Jessica Hejna has decided to close out her collegiate career with a bang as she is riding a career-high 10 game hit streak into postseason action. The streak began with an impressive 4-for-4 showing in the first game of three versus Cal Poly on April 28 and includes three additional multiple hit performances and a hit in each of last weekend's games with Long Beach State. Her current streak is not only a personal-best, but also the best put together by a Gaucho this season. Hejna is currently batting a career-high .315 on the season, good for third on the team, and led the Gauchos in Big West pairings hitting .393. The Orange, Calif. native currently ranks seventh amongst all Division I players with her .43 sac bunt per game average and leads the team with 22 bunts, which is a single season school record. Not just a force offensively, Hejna's move from the outfield to first base this year has proven to be a wise one as she leads the conference in chances (389) and putouts (368) and has posted a .997 fielding percentage after committing just one error.
Run Ramos, Run
Sophomore second baseman Christine Ramos continues to lead the Gauchos hitting .358 on the season with a team-leading 33 runs scored and .389 OB%. The sophomore also currently leads the team and the Big West for stolen bases (12) and ranks in the top-10 for batting average, runs scored and hits (63). Ramos is also listed as the 38th hardest Division I player to strike out. The Long Beach, Calif. native has had hits in 37 of the Gauchos' 51 games this season, including 23 multiple hit games.
In Tisha We Trust
Week in and week out this season, Tisha Duran has been a consistent force at the plate for the Gauchos and has hit her way to second place amongst the Gauchos batting .331 on the year. The third baseman leads the UCSB with 33 RBI on the year and is a close second to Ramos with 32 runs scored. The Ventura, Calif. native leads UCSB in extra-base hits: 11 doubles, three triples and three home runs. Out of the Gauchos' 51 games this season, Duran has had hits in 36 of them, including 14 multi-hit performances and seven multiple RBI games. She has had hits in 10 of the last 12 games played and has had an RBI in five of the last seven match-ups.
The Schroeder Scoop
In her six years at UC Santa Barbara, head coach Kristy Schroeder has taken a very marginal program and turned it into an annual contender for postseason play. In 2007, Schroeder has reached several milestones including her 300th career win on April 22. This season marks only the third time in program history the Gauchos have advanced to postseason play, with all three NCAA appearances coming under Schroeder's guidance. The 2007 Gauchos' 30-21 record also marks the third 30-win season under Schroeder and the second winningest season in her tenure at UCSB behind the 2003 season's 34-22 record (.607).
And The Awards Go To...
Five Gauchos were named to All-Big West Conference teams it was announced on Tuesday. Senior pitcher Jennifer Davis was named Big West Pitcher of the Year and granted her fourth consecutive All-Big West honor, but her only first team selection of her career. Joining Davis on the first team are junior third baseman Tisha Duran and sophomore second baseman Christine Ramos, who was a second team selection in 2006. Senior first baseman Jessica Hejna earned her first career All-Big West honor with her second team placement, as did sophomore center fielder Tiffany Wright who earned honorable mention accolades.
What About The Wahine?
No. 12 ranked Hawai'i will enter this weekend's regional sporting an impressive 46-11 overall record. The Rainbow Wahine received an at-large berth into the tournament after winning the Western Athletic Conference regular season title. Hawai'i has lost the last two of its match-ups, but has won six of its last nine games. Tyleen Tausaga leads the team batting .407 on the season with 51 RBI, eight doubles and 15 home runs. Kate Robinson is hitting .349 with a team-leading 65 RBI and 18 homers. In the circle Justine Smethurst leads the Wahine with her 17-8 record, 1.72 ERA, 163 K's and .189 opponent's average. Robinson is 15-1 on the season with a 1.76 ERA. UCSB last faced Hawai'i in 2006 and took a 2-0 win at the Wahine's own Spring Fling Tournament. Hawai'i holds a 39-16 series advantage over the Gauchos.
No. 13 ranked UCLA enters this weekend's regional after finishing the regular season with a 36-16 overall mark. The Bruins earned the No. 12 seed into the tournament after finishing third in the Pacific-10 championships last weekend. UCSB faced UCLA on March 27 in Westwood where the Gauchos earned a 3-1 victory over the Bruins snapping their 12-game win streak. UCLA leads the all-time series with UCSB, 59-3. Krista Colburn leads the Bruins hitting .398 on the season with 32 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Lisa Dodd is batting .382 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 46 RBI. USA Softball National Collegiate Pitcher of the Week Megan Langenfeld leads UCLA in the circle with her 13-2 record and 1.35 ERA. Anjelica Selden has posted a 17-10 record with a 2.78 ERA, a team-leading 211 strikeouts and a .207 opponent's batting average.
Caging The Lions
Rounding out the Los Angeles Regional will be a third Southern California team: Loyola Marymount. The Lions enter this weekend with an overall regular season record of 45-16 and earned an automatic bid after taking first in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. LMU will enter the weekend's regional on an impressive 13-game win streak. Christine Foley leads the Lions hitting .411 on the season with 36 RBI, while Margo Pineda is hitting .407 with a team-high 74 hits and 42 RBI. In the circle, Tiffany Pagano leads the way with her 1.92 ERA, 220 strikeouts and a .187 opponent's batting average. Pagano has posted a 20-8 record, while teammate Melissa Dykema has gone 25-7 with a 2.22 ERA and 198 K's. UCSB split a doubleheader with the Lions on March 25 at Campus Diamond. LMU took game one 4-3 before the Gauchos handed them a 6-2 loss in game two. UCSB leads the all-time series with LMU, 18-12.