Feb. 3, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Today we conclude the four-part preview of the 2009 UC Santa Barbara softball season with an outlook on the Gaucho pitchers and catchers.
While some programs rely on one or two workhorses to get the job done in the circle, UCSB has the luxury of variety this season as the Gauchos carry five pitchers on their active roster this season. The Gauchos return all of last season's staff and also add two talented freshmen to the mix.
The veterans are senior Tami Weston and juniors MeLinda Matsumoto and Lindsey Correa, who each saw an increased number of innings in 2008 following the graduation of 2007 Big West Pitcher of the Year Jennifer Davis (2004-07).
"We have the three returners, and like everyone else they have another year of experience," head coach Brie Galicinao said. "Last year they were all kind of rookies out there just based off of number of innings played. But they have that one year of experience and have put the time in just getting better and stronger and getting to know what is expected of them in preseason and in conference.
"We still have a lot of options with those three and then you add two new freshmen arms who also throw differently than the people we already have on staff, so we have even more options," she continued.
The most veteran of the staff is Weston who was a 2008 All-Big West Honorable Mention selection. Last season she led the team with her 3.55 ERA in 110.1 innings pitched. She had an overall record of 11-6 and posted a 6-3 mark in Big West games.
"Tami really stepped up during conference last season," Galicinao said. "It has been amazing just to see how much she has grown since freshman year. She is only getting better and I think she is peaking now during her senior year."
Matsumoto enters the season with a 3.45 career ERA and 17-17 record over the past two seasons. Last year she went 8-11 overall, but 4-3 in Big West contests. She appeared in a total of 35 games, starting 19 for the Gauchos.
"Mel, since her freshman year, has shown that she is someone our team can rely on and that is why she got a lot of big games last year," Galicinao said. "Though I know she probably wanted to have a better showing against those bigger teams.
"Her pitches are moving better and she has more pitches than she did last year, so now she just has more options if something isn't working for her," she continued. "Her steadiness, combined with having the tools to do it and the experience in knowing that she can do it, lead me to think we will be able to lean on her again this year."
Rounding out the returners is Correa, the Gauchos 2008 strikeout leader (87). Correa posted an 11-7 record last season and was second on the squad with a 3.80 ERA.
"Lindsey is definitely talented, it is just a matter of putting it together at game time," Galicinao said. "I am really banking on her bringing what we have seen in practice out to the games consistently. There were flashes of it last year; it is just a matter of seeing it consistently. I think this year might be the year for her."
Cobb comes to UCSB via El Camino Real High School where she was a two-time CIF All-City selection and two-time City Section strikeout leader.
Liepman, the Gauchos' lone lefty, hails from Oak Park High School where she was an All-Tri Valley League honoree.
"For the freshmen, they both throw differently," Galicinao said. "I will be excited to see them in action and put it all together.
"They all have different upsides: how they move the ball, on what kind of planes, what kind of velocity they throw at and their motions," Galicinao said of her staff. "So, I think if they are able to do their job and work together, they will be very effective as a pitching staff. If one is throwing and you put in a different pitcher, what she is throwing is going to be different enough where it is going to be challenging for teams to make adjustments just because we have so many pitchers and they throw so differently."
Pitching isn't the only place Galicinao will have several options. The Gaucho coaching staff now has three catchers contending for time behind the dish.
Freshman Lainey DePompa will likely get the starting nod. Out of Crescenta Valley High School, DePompa was a three-time First Team All-Pacific League Selection.
"Lainey knows the game really well and she thinks the game really well in terms of working with the infield and managing the game," Galicinao said. "She does a good job of managing the pitchers and calling her own game."
Junior Kelsey Anderson also returns. Anderson started 24 games during her sophomore season and ranked second in the Big West with 13 runners caught stealing. She batted .263, tallying 15 hits, eight runs and 10 RBI. In addition to competing for time behind the plate, Anderson will also be an option to fill in as the designated player.
"Kelsey's verbal communication with the infield has improved," Galicinao said. "She was somebody who was pretty consistent for us in the lineup when she was playing, so I would expect the same if not more from her this year because she is such a hard worker and has gotten stronger."
Rounding out the crew is freshman Allison Taylor, who is also an option for UCSB in the outfield. Taylor hails from El Modena High School where she was a three-time First Team All-Century League selection.
"Alli is somebody that I know can do the job behind the plate because she has catching experience with high school and travel ball," Galicinao said. "She is another player that knows the game well and can call her own game.
"The team looks good, they are working hard," Galicinao said. "As a coaching staff, all we ask is that they be committed and that they come every day ready to work and get better. So far they have shown that they are committed. They have done everything that we have asked of them and I think they are holding themselves to their own standards. It is nice to work in that kind of environment. It has been fun."
The Gaucho season gets underway this Friday, Feb. 6 when UCSB heads to the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Santa Barbara will face Oregon, Wichita State, McNeese State, Wagner, Penn State and No. 7 Arizona during the three-day tournament.
For a chance to catch all of the Gauchos' games at Campus Diamond this season, the UCSB Athletics Department is, for the first-time, offering season tickets. Ticket prices are $50 for adults, $40 seniors (55 and over) and $24 youth (13 and under) and include all 16 home contests. With the purchase of a season ticket, you will also receive a free UCSB visor. To purchase tickets, click here.
UCSB - a nationally recognized university in both academic and athletic excellence - is located on the central coast of California in a picturesque campus and community setting on the Pacific Ocean. Each year over 450 Division 1 Gaucho student-athletes compete for national championships, succeed in the classroom and give back to the community.
- UCSBgauchos.com -