April 15, 2008

Battle Between the Big West Leaders on the Slate this Weekend

April 15, 2008

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• The Schedule
Games No. 43, 44, 45

Saturday, Apr. 19, 2008
UCSB vs. No. 16 Long Beach State, 12 & 2 p.m.
at UCSB's Campus Diamond (500)

Sunday, Apr. 20, 2008
UCSB vs. No. 16 Long Beach State, 12 p.m.
at UCSB's Campus Diamond (500)

• This Week in Gaucho Softball
The UC Santa Barbara softball team will face a big test this weekend when they host No. 16 Long Beach State in a Big West series at Campus Diamond. The two teams are currently in a tie for first place with their 7-2 conference records. The three game series with the 49ers will begin at noon on Saturday and conclude at noon on Sunday. Sunday's game will be broadcast live on KCSB 91.9 FM and can also be heard at KCSB.org.

• Gauchos' Winning Streak Broken Last Week
Heading into last week's action, UCSB was amidst an eight-game winning streak and had a flawless 6-0 Big West record, unfortunately, the Gauchos found that all good things must come to an end. The week began with a pair of losses to No. 13 Fresno State on Tuesday (5-2 and 9-5) and ended with a series loss to Cal State Northridge. UCSB dropped the first two games against the Matadors by way of 5-4 and 3-1 scores before bouncing back in the series closer and posting a 4-0 shutout to avoid the sweep. The Gauchos now hold a 24-18 record on the season and are 7-2 in Big West play. UCSB has already matched its number of conference wins from the 2007 season and this season's start is a huge improvement upon last year's 0-8 beginning to Big West play.

• The Battle for First Comes to Campus Diamond
This weekend's pairing with Long Beach State not only pits the two first place teams in the Big West against each other, but also the conference's leading defense against it's leading offense. The Gauchos continue to lead the Big West with their collective .291 batting average (which is on pace to set the school record) and .292 average in league games. Last season, the Gauchos relied heavily on the small ball to get runs across the plate and batted a conference-low .248 with 83 extra-base hits (49 2B, 10 3B, 24 HR) and 148 runs. This season, UCSB has already surpassed last season's runs, triples, and home run output and have 79 extra-base hits (39 2B, 10 3B, 30 HR). Currently, the Gauchos lead the Big West for slugging percentage (.424), on-base percentage (.360), hits (325), runs (178), RBI (161), home runs (30), and total bases (474). Long Beach, which is sixth in conference batting .250, leads the Big West for pitching with its combined 1.55 ERA overall and 1.28 ERA in league games. The 49ers also have posted a conference-leading .972 fielding percentage, the Gauchos are second with their .969 fielding.

• The Wright Stuff
Junior Tiffany Wright, who was last week's Big West Player of the Week, continues to lead the Big West offensively in conference contests. Outside of league play, the center fielder is hitting .248, but in conference games, she leads the Big West with her .516 average, 1.000 slugging percentage, .545 on-base percentage, nine runs scored, 16 hits, 31 total bases, and five home runs. She is also tied for first with teammate Tisha Duran with 11 RBI. For the season, she has hit .311, good for third on the team, and is second for home runs (8) and RBI (25). Across last week's five games, she batted .412 with two runs, a double, a home run, two stolen bases, and two RBI. On Sunday, she went 2-for-4 with a run, an RBI, and a stolen base in the 4-0 shutout of Northridge. The junior has had a hit in 10 of the last 11 games, including five multiple-hit showings.

• Duran, Duran
Tisha Duran is currently amidst a stellar senior season and has been a strong offensive leader for the Gauchos. The Ventura, Calif. native currently leads the Gauchos and is fourth in the Big West with her .379 batting average. She leads the conference with her 28 runs scored, 44 RBI, and 11 home runs, which is just one shy of tying Lindsey Herrin's school record of 12 home runs in a season. Last weekend, Duran led the Gauchos to their lone win over Northridge when she hit a homer with two runners on-base to put the Gauchos ahead 3-0 against the Matadors. UCSB went on to capture the win at 4-0. The three RBI brought her season total to 44, which ties the school record set by Jamie Trinidad in 2003. She also currently has 77 career RBI, which is tied sixth all-time, a pretty big feat considering she is in just her second season with the Gauchos.

• The Ramos Rundown
The Gaucho winning streak wasn't the only streak broken this last week, second baseman Christine Ramos' team-best hitting streak also came to a halt. The junior posted 14 consecutive games with a hit before having her bat silenced in the final two games of the series with Northridge. She went 3-for-4 with a run in the 5-2 loss to Fresno State and was 2-for3 with a run in game one against the Matadors. The 2007 All-Big West First Team selection is currently second on the team, batting .329 on the season, and has hit .333 during the Big West schedule. She has scored 25 runs this season and is second on the team with 11 stolen bases and second in the conference with 48 hits.

• How About Hansen?
After splitting time behind the plate with sophomore Kelsey Anderson during the first half of the season, senior Ericka Hansen has found herself back in the starting rotation for the Gauchos over the last several weeks. The catcher led the Gauchos during last week's five games, batting .444 (4-for-9) with a home run, two RBI, and three walks. Hansen was solid in the first game against Fresno State going 2-for-2 with a solo homer and a walk. She also earned a pair of walks in the first game against Northridge while also tallying a base hit. She rounded out the weekend with a single in the final game with the Matadors. Hansen is fourth on the team with her .333 batting average in conference games and is hitting .275 overall with five home runs and 10 RBI.

• The Ziegler Zone
Sophomore first baseman Jessica Ziegler leads the Big West for stolen bases this week after tallying three last week, bringing her season total to 13. She is tied second in the BWC with 10 sac bunts and is batting .259 this season. She is second amongst the Gauchos for runs scored with 27 and has posted three doubles and two triples this season while recording 13 RBI. Defensively, she leads the conference with 14 fielding double plays and is second for chances (344) and putouts (312). Last week, she went 1-for-4 with a run and two RBI in the 9-5 loss to Fresno State. She then posted a single, run, and RBI in the first game with the Matadors. She went 1-for-3 in game two and rounded out the series with a pair of runs and a pair of stolen bases in the Gauchos' 4-0 victory on Sunday.

• The Outfielders
Accompanying Tiffany Wright in the outfield this season is senior Nicole Churnock and sophomore Priscilla Perez. Churnock is fourth on the team with her .310 batting average and has posted 12 RBI this year. She had three hits in the five games last week and posted an RBI and a run in the narrow 5-4 loss to Northridge. Perez, who has been a consistent presence in right field since early March, is batting .254 on the year and has scored six runs and posted six RBI. She is also one of four Gauchos to still hold a flawless 1.000 fielding percentage.

• Matsumoto Matters
Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto picked up her second straight win on Sunday after pitching her first complete game shutout of the season against the Matadors. She improved to 6-8 on the season and currently holds a 3.75 season ERA, but has a team-low 0.78 ERA in conference contests. For the week, Matsumoto pitched a total of 13 innings between four appearances and recorded a 0.54 ERA. She allowed nine hits, one earned run, walked five, and struck out five.

• Correa in the Circle
Sophomore Lindsey Correa fell to 10-6 on the season after dropping the first game of the Fresno State doubleheader and the first game of the Northridge series. Correa pitched 3.2 innings against Fresno and allowed five runs (all earned) on eight hits while walking five and striking out one. She posted similar numbers in her 4.1 innings of work on Saturday, once again allowing five runs on eight hits. She walked three and struck out two in the 5-4 loss to the Matadors. For the season, Correa holds a 3.71 ERA and .259 opponent batting average.

• The Weston Windup
After posting four consecutive wins, junior Tami Weston's streak came to an end last week. The pitcher pitched six innings against Fresno State and gave up a season-high eight runs on nine hits. She walked five and tied her season-high of seven strikeouts in the 9-5 loss to the Bulldogs. Then, on Saturday, she allowed three runs on seven hits in the second game against Northridge, which the Gauchos dropped 3-1. For the season, Weston has posted an 8-4 record with a team-low 3.20 ERA.

• 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.

• 49er Factoids
Long Beach State enters this weekend's contest with an impressive 31-11 overall record and a 10-3 road record. The 49ers haven't lost back-to-back games since mid-February and won two out of three against Cal Poly last weekend at home. Brooke LeSage leads the team batting .315 on the year with 20 runs and 20 RBI. Pitcher Brooke Turner has put together an outstanding freshman season in the circle for the 49ers, posting a 0.46 ERA with 183 strikeouts. She is 20-4 on the season and has posted a perfect 6-0 conference record. The Gauchos split four games in 2007 with the 49ers, but Long Beach took the conference series, two games to one. The 49ers have not lost a series to the Gauchos since losing two out of three at Campus Diamond back in the 2001 season; they lead the overall series, 66-29-1.

• Coming Soon
UCSB will continue Big West play next week with a road series at UC Davis. The Aggies and Gauchos will face-off in a doubleheader scheduled for noon on Saturday, Apr. 26 and will wrap-up the series the following day with a single game at noon.

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