Gauchos Head To Georgia For NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 27, 2008

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• The Schedule
Games No. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
NFCA Leadoff Classic
at South Commons Stadium and Complex (Columbus, Ga.)
All times listed as Eastern Standard Time

Friday, Feb. 29, 2008
UCSB vs. Michigan, 4 pm
UCSB vs. Syracuse, 6:30 pm

Saturday, Mar. 1, 2008
UCSB vs. N.C. State, 11 am
UCSB vs. Mississippi State, 4 pm

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008
UCSB vs. DePaul, 10 am

• Representing the Left Coast
After going 4-1 last weekend at Campus Diamond, the Gauchos will once again hit the road, this time to head across the country to Columbus, Ga. for the 2008 NFCA Leadoff Classic. The three-day event will run Friday through Sunday at the South Commons Stadium and Complex. The Gauchos will be the only California team participating in the 21 team field, which includes six nationally ranked teams. UCSB will face No. 12 Michigan, Syracuse, N.C. State, No. 18 Mississippi State, and No. 19 DePaul in what could arguably be one of their most challenging weekend's this season.

• How To Catch The Action
For all of you that were feeling Gametracker deprived during last weekend's Softball by the Beach Tournament, have no fear, all of this weekend's games are scheduled to be broadcast live on Gametracker. Just go to the softball schedule page on ucsbgauchos.com and click the Gametracker link to follow the Gaucho action in Georgia.

• There's No Place Like Home
UCSB spent the third week of the 2008 season hosting its home-opening Softball by the Beach Tournament at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Portland State on Friday before posting a 3-0 win over St. John's and an 8-5 win over the Vikings on Saturday. Sunday, the final day of the tournament, was cancelled due to wet weather and poor field conditions, so the Gauchos rescheduled Sunday's single game with St. John's for Monday and made it a doubleheader. UCSB defeated the Red Storm in the first pairing on Monday, 11-2, before falling 6-4 in the second game. Heading into this weekend, UCSB holds an even 7-7 overall record.

• Duran Earns Big West Player Of The Week Honors
2007 All-Big West First Team selection Tisha Duran picked up her first career Big West Player of the Week honor on Monday after an impressive three games at Campus Diamond. Duran's week started with a bang as she knocked home the game's only run in the 1-0 win over Portland State on Friday. She then exploded for three hits in as many at-bats the next day against St. John's. During her 3-for-3 showing against the Red Storm, Duran hits a homerun, a double, and tallied two RBI. She then wrapped up the weekend going 2-for-3 with another homer, three RBI, and two runs in the second game of the weekend against the Vikings. For the weekend, Duran batted .667 with two homeruns, six RBI, and three runs. After Monday's twin bill, Duran is now leading the Big West in hitting (.488), slugging percentage (.907), homers (5), and RBI (20). In fact, the third baseman has posted 20 of the Gauchos' 50 RBI, five of the team's seven homeruns, and has posted 18 of the 81 (21%) total hits and 39 of the 141 (28%) total bases. Just 14 games into the season, Duran is just 13 RBI shy of matching her total of 33 from last season.

• The Ramos Rundown
Second basemen and 2007 All-Big West First Team pick Christine Ramos was second amongst the Gauchos during their five-game home stretch, batting .412 across the five games with six runs, one double, and one RBI. The junior had multiple hits in two games: going 2-for-4 in the second contest against Portland State and 3-for-4 in the third game versus St. John's. Ramos is currently third amongst the Gauchos batting .298 on the season and is tied for first in the Big West with her team-leading 11 runs scored.

• Zoning In On Ziegler
First baseman Jessica Ziegler has made her presence known in the Gaucho lineup this season. The sophomore is second on the team, batting .319 and leads the Gauchos, and the Big West with eight stolen bases. During this past week's five home games, Ziegler batted .294 with two runs, three RBI, and a stolen base. She has had at least one hit in each of the last four contests including a 2-for-3 showing with one run, one stolen base, and one sac bunt in Monday's first pairing with St. John's.

• Churnock Churns It Up
Senior left fielder Nicole Churnock batted a solid .333 last week, going 5-for-15 at the plate and 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts. The Orange, Calif. native was impressive in the 1-0 win over Portland State on Friday, going 3-for-3, tying her career-high for hits, and she also picked up her first stolen base of the season. Currently, the senior is fourth on the team, batting .270 in the number nine spot.

• She's Got The Wright Stuff
Gaucho center fielder Tiffany Wright knocked in five of UCSB's runs this weekend while also hitting two doubles, one homer, and scoring two runs. The junior went 2-for-3 with her homerun and double in the win over Portland State on Saturday and then had a hit in both of Monday's pairings with St. John's. Wright is currently batting .200 on the season, but is second on the team with seven RBI.

• The Freshmen Factor
The current Gaucho lineup currently features all three freshmen on the UCSB roster: Jessica Beristianos is starting at shortstop, Katie McWhirter is spending time in right field, and Mary Episcopo has filled in as designated player in several games this season. Despite batting just .100 over the week, Episcopo scored four of the Gauchos' runs, posted two RBI, had two sacrifice flies, and earned a team-high five walks. In fact, Episcopo had one run in each of the last four games played. For the season, she is batting .240 with a .364 on-base percentage. McWhirter batted .300 across the five games, and posted a hit in each of the final three games. In the 11-2 victory over St. John's on Monday, she went 1-for-3 with a season-best three runs and two RBI along with a double and two walks. Rounding out the class of 2011 is Beristianos, who hit her first collegiate homerun in the 8-5 win over Portland State on Saturday.

• How The Weston Won
Junior hurler Tami Weston (3-0) posted two wins at home, notching a 1-0 victory over Portland State and an 11-2 win over St. John's. For the week, she recorded a team-best 1.17 ERA and allowed just two runs, five walks, and struck out eight. For the season, Weston has an overall ERA of 3.21, a .269 opponent batting average, and 22 strikeouts.

• Matsumoto Matters
Sophomore pitcher MeLinda Matsumoto (1-4) picked up her first win of the season against Portland State on Saturday. Matsumoto threw a complete seven innings, allowing three earned runs on 12 hits with two walks and a season-high five strikeouts. On Monday, she pitched the first inning in the twin bill against St. John's and gave up one run on three hits. For the season, Matsumoto holds a 5.11 ERA with 13 strikeouts. Also noteworthy is that all four of Matsumoto's losses this season have come against teams currently ranked in the ESPN/USA Softball Top-25 Poll.

• In The Circle With Correa
Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Correa (3-3) split a pair of games, picking up her second shutout of the season in 3-0 fashion over St. John's on Saturday before falling 6-4 to the Red Storm on Monday. Correa pitched a complete seven innings on Saturday allowing no runs on six hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. On Monday, she gave up three earned runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts. Correa currently leads the Gaucho pitching staff with her 3.03 ERA and .200 opponent batting average. She also has a team-best 28 strikeouts, which already surpasses the 24 she tallied in 2007.

• Under New Management
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 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.

• Wolverines Woo!
No. 12 Michigan went 4-1 at last weekend's UCF Tournament in Orlando, Fla. and holds an 11-2 overall record. Samantha Findlay, the Big Ten Player of the Week, leads the Wolverines with her .410 batting average, 12 runs, four homeruns, and 15 RBI. In the circle, Nikki Nemitz has posted a 6-1 record with a 0.60 ERA, .145 opponent batting average, and 53 strikeouts. Michigan holds a 2-0 series record against UCSB and posted a 7-2 victory over the Gauchos in 2005.

• Seeing Orange
Syracuse has gotten off to a rough 0-8 start on the season and was 0-4 at last weekend's Pirate Classic in Greenville, N.C. Nicole Miller, who is batting .267 this season, and Hallie Gibbs, who is hitting .235, lead the Orange. In the circle, Chanel Roehner holds a team-best 2.57 ERA and .245 opponent batting average. Friday's pairing will be the first-ever between Syracuse and UCSB.

• Tracking The Pack
N.C. State is currently 7-8 on the season and recently picked up a 3-1 win on Wednesday in its home-opener against UNC Greensboro. The Wolfpack is led by Alyssa Allbritten, who is batting .406 on the year with 10 RBI. In the circle, Lindsay Campana is 2-6 with a team-best 3.23 ERA and 54 strikeouts. The match-up with N.C. State will be another program first for the Gauchos.

• Bulldog Bites
No. 18 Mississippi State comes into this weekend's action with an overall record of 13-2 and a neutral field record of 6-2. The Bulldogs picked up their first losses of the season last week at the Mercer Wingate Inn Classic in Macon, Ga., falling twice to Western Kentucky. They did pick up wins over Austin Peay and Mercer during the rain hampered tournament. Chelsea Bramlett currently leads Mississippi State, batting .510 on the season with 12 RBI and 12 runs. Pitcher Misty Flesher owns a 1.17 ERA and a 5-1 record while fellow hurler, Kelsey Nurnberg has gone 7-1 in the circle with a 1.63 ERA. The last time the two teams met was in 2004, when they split a pair of games. UCSB holds a slight 2-1 series advantage.

• Exorcising The Demons
No. 19 DePaul, a 2007 College World Series participant, enters this weekend with an overall mark of 7-4 and a neutral record of 6-1. Last weekend, the Blue Demons went 3-2 at the Crowne Plaza Classic, dropping a pair to Houston and picking up two wins over Texas A&M Corpus Christi and one over Army. Amber Patton leads the team with her .375 batting average and six runs scored while four other players are hitting .333 or better. In the circle, Becca Heteniak has gone 3-3 with a 2.10 ERA while Laura Frenkiewicz is 3-1 on the season with a 1.73 ERA. UCSB has faced DePaul just once before in 1992; the Gauchos suffered a 3-0 loss.

• Coming Soon
Following this weekend's Leadoff Classic, UCSB will return home for a doubleheader against Loyola Chicago on Mar. 8 beginning at 9 am, please note the time change, as the original start time was scheduled for one hour later. The following day, Mar. 9, the Gauchos will face the other Loyola - Loyola Marymount - in Los Angeles in addition to a game against the University of North Dakota.

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